Development of an abscess in the mouth can lead to difficulty in eating and chewing, resulting in low food intake and weakness. Abscesses that develop in the gum tissue are called gingival abscesses while those in the supporting structures of the tooth, i.e. spread over greater portion of the gum tissue, bone and periodontal membrane are called periodontal abscesses. Periapical abscess refers to the abscess in the area around the tip of the root (apex or end of the root). It indicates chronic tooth infection.
What is an Abscess?
A mouth abscess can develop as a result of tooth decay or due to an infection in the gum. Bacterial infection results in the formation of pus and accumulation of pus leads to the formation of an abscess. As a natural reaction to the infection, body sends white blood cells to the infected area, in order to get rid of infection. Pus is nothing but the mixture of live and dead white blood cells, some parts of the destroyed cells and tissues and different enzymes. When pus cannot find a way for drainage, it accumulates to form an abscess. Abscesses are usually very painful. In some cases, the symptoms may go away within a few days. But unless the cause is eliminated, the abscess is not said to be cured. A dental abscess does not heal itself. It requires proper medical attention.
Dental Abscess Causes
Food particles or debris accumulated deep in the tooth and gum lead to the formation of an abscess in the mouth. Bacteria can enter into the dental pulp, through a cavity, or from a deep periodontal pocket, leading to an infection. If your immune system is not working properly, you won't be able to fight the infection. In such cases, there are more chances of formation of an abscess. In the initial stage, there may be mild toothache, which can later become severe. As the infection spreads, the nerve of the tooth becomes infected. The infection finally reaches the gum, forming a visible boil that can anytime rupture in the mouth. If the abscess is not promptly treated, the infection can even spread to other areas of the head and neck, which can be very harmful and life-threatening. Draining of the abscess and elimination of the cause is therefore necessary.
- Severe or throbbing pain
- Pain when the tooth makes contact with other teeth
- Pain on chewing
- Worsening of pain while lying on bed
- Constantly feeling unwell and uncomfortable
- Tooth sensitive to heat
- Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw
- Pain in the sinus area
- Bad breath
- Swelling around the abscess area
- Dark area around the tooth root detected in an x-ray
- Reddened and swollen gum
- A sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting fluid in the mouth, on rupture of the abscess.
- For periapical abscesses, your dentist might suggest or may start with root canal treatment immediately. The dentist might remove the infected tissue.
- In case of a gum abscess, an incision through the gum tissue can help drain the abscess.
- In case, the tooth is damaged too much, tooth extraction is required.
- To reduce the effect of infection, antibiotics may be prescribed by the dentist.
- Dental X-ray can detect the exact location and condition of the mouth abscess. Follow-up x-rays are also necessary to recheck the condition.
- Everyday, you are expected to rinse with warm salty water (1/8th tsp salt in 8 ounces of water) 4-5 times. This helps kill bacteria. You should continue doing this for a few more days, even after the rupture of the abscess.
- Proper dental care is necessary to control the infection. Brushing after eating, flossing, cleaning and gargling is essential to maintain good dental health.
- If you apply clove oil around the infected area, it can help reduce the pain.
- Applying ice packs from outside can relieve the pain and can also help reduce the swelling.
- Tooth abscess home remedies include following a healthy and balanced diet, as it helps improve the immune system of the body.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.