What is a Tooth Abscess? Ask Our South Charlotte Emergency Dentist

added on: February 18, 2020

Tooth abscess symptoms include severe, throbbing pain; swollen lymph nodes, and difficulty breathing/swallowing. If you believe you have a tooth abscess, contact our emergency dentist office immediately. 

A periapical tooth abscess is a bacterial infection of the tooth, notable for causing extraordinary pain for the unfortunate patient. Left untreated, tooth abscesses can quickly become become life-threatening—Hugo Boss and Jethro Tull musician John Glascock are among the many who have died from an untreated tooth abscess. However, as long as treatment is administered swiftly, the patient will recover within about 5 days. Below is more information about abscesses. 

What Causes a Tooth Abscess? 

There are two general types of abscesses: a periapical abscess, which occurs at the tip of the tooth’s root, and a periodontal abscess, which occurs in the gums at the side of the root. Periapical abscesses are much more common. Both types are usually the result of an untreated dental cavity, injury, or prior dental treatment. To be more specific, the abscess occurs when bacteria invade the dental pulp, the innermost part of the tooth containing its blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. The bacteria generally enter through a cavity, chip, or crack in the tooth, and spread all the way down to the root, causing swelling, inflammation, and pain.

Tooth Abscess Symptoms 

The primary symptom of a tooth abscess is a severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear, as well as tender, swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck. Patients may also experience fever or difficulty breathing or swallowing. 

What to Do: Seek Immediate Treatment  

If you suspect you are developing a tooth abscess, see an emergency dentist immediately. If you have a fever and swelling in your face, or you cannot reach a South Charlotte emergency dentist promptly, go to an emergency room. These symptoms usually indicate that the infection has spread deeper into your jaw and surrounding tissues, or even to other areas of your body. 

It is important to note that a dental abscess can become life-threatening very quickly, within just a few hours. Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, is one of many people who died relatively young because he thought his infection might go away on its own. If you or a loved one is suffering from an Abscess, it is important to address the situation immediately. Even if the abscess ruptures, you will still need dental treatment, as the infection may spread to your jaw and to other areas of your head and neck. You might even develop sepsis — a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout your body.

Treatment for a Tooth Abscess

Antibiotics normally are effective in controlling tooth abscesses. Most symptoms will be alleviated within two days, and the abscess typically will heal after five days of antibiotic treatment. If the infection is limited to the abscessed area, antibiotics may not be necessary. 

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