If a tooth constantly throbs, it may be a sign of an abscess. An abscess is actually an infection inside a tooth which has spread into the root.
Tooth abscesses are different to gum abscesses, and this needs to be clarified in order to give the correct treatment.
A gum abscess forms inside the pocket of the gum, whereas a tooth abscess starts inside the tooth pulp and moves on to the bottom of the root.
When bacteria and infection develop in the pulp of a tooth, a pus filled abscess begins to form.
Although they can be located around any tooth, the molars and wisdom teeth are the most susceptible.
What Causes An Abscess?
There are several causes, but among the most common are:
- Tooth Decay
- Injury To A Tooth
- Damage To The Tooth Pulp After A Filling
- Damage To The Blood Supply to The Tooth
- Irreversible Pulpitis
You can minimize the risks of developing an abscess by maintaining regular dentist checks and excellent oral hygiene practices, but many times they arrive despite your best efforts.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Dental Abscess?
There are several symptoms to look out for, with the most common being:
- Pain On Touching The Tooth
- Unpleasant Taste Or Odour In The Mouth
- Throbbing Pain In Tooth
- Swollen Gum Or Swollen Lump On The Gum
There are cases where there are no apparent symptoms, but generally you will know when you’ve got one!
Diagnosis And Treatment For An Abscessed Tooth
Chances are you will have gone to a dental clinic because of toothache, and therefore it’s your dentist who will diagnose the problem.
A simple tap on the tooth might indicate the diagnosis, but many dentists use an X-ray to confirm their suspicions.
The first step in treatment is to tackle and treat the source of the infection.
Draining the pus from the tooth cavity or gum will ease the pressure and pain cause by the swelling. Following this, a course of antibiotics will usually be given. The dose required will relate to the severity of the infection.
If you don’t have a dentist then you may have to be treated elsewhere. If the infection is severe you may be running a high temperature, your breathing may be troubled, or your face might be swelling badly.
In this case you may have to go to the Emergency Department to have the pus drained.
You should never ignore the signs of infection because it needs to be treated.
Failure to treat the infection can lead to bacteria spreading into the bloodstream, and subsequently sepsis (blood poisoning) may develop. Sepsis can cause further problems to develop in other organs, and in the worst case it can be fatal.
Once the initial infection is under control with antibiotics etc. the pain should go. However, tooth that caused the problem needs to be dealt with.
Your dentist may need to perform a root canal procedure or else pull the problem tooth, in order to make sure the infection does not reoccur.
Can You Use Home Remedies for A Tooth Abscess?
Whilst you can use home remedies to treat the pain of a dental abscess, you are not dealing with the infection.
Therefore, if you think you have one you should seek the advice of a dental professional in order to get the correct treatment as soon as possible.
Ignoring tooth decay could result in extractions and the need for dentures, and it could take a while to adjust to false teeth. To avoid this end result, visit a dentist.
Delaying treatment, by holding a warm ‘hot water bottle’ on the face and taking strong toothache painkillers, may give you temporary relief but it will not solve the problem.
The old wives tale about holding a very warm compress on the area will not cure the underlying infection either.
Early detection and swift treatment of an abscessed tooth will also speed up the recovery process.