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Dental abscess: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About dental abscess

Dental abscess is a serious condition characterised by the accumulation of pus in the infected tooth or the gums. This may result from tooth decay or a bacterial infection in the mouth. The dental abscess inside the tooth is called ‘periapical abscess’ and it is the commonest presentation of dental abscess. ‘Periodontal abscess’ affects the gum and is less common.

Dental abscess: Incidence, age and sex

Dental abscess may affect an individual in any age group. However, it is more common in adults, especially those who have a poor dental hygiene.

Signs and symptoms of dental abscess: Diagnosis

The predominant symptom of dental abscess is pain in the affected tooth and gum area, which may be excruciating and throbbing. The pain may radiate to jaw and to the ear of the affected side. The pain may exacerbate while chewing. Some individuals may experience increased sensitivity of affected tooth to hot and cold stuff. Increased pus collection may also cause fever accompanied with foul smell in the mouth. A dental examination by a specialist may reveal the pus collection along with increased warmth and redness around the involved area.

Causes and prevention of dental abscess

Dental abscess most commonly results from a long standing bacterial infection of teeth and gums. Plaque which constitutes food particles also is the seat for such infections. Moreover tooth decay, caries and gingivitis may also increase the likelihood of development of dental abscess. A few measures like timely management of dental caries and maintaining good dental hygiene may go a long way in preventing the occurrence of dental abscess.

Dental abscess: Complications

Dental abscess if left untreated, may spread to surrounding tissues causing destruction of soft tissues and bones. This may result in osteomyelitis of the jaw which is a serious infection of the jaw bone. Other health concerns are maxillary sinusitis and dental cysts.

Dental abscess: Treatment

It is essential to evaluate the condition and detect the underlying cause of dental abscess. The first step is to manage and eliminate the source of dental abscess. The affected individuals may be prescribed medications like analgesics for relieving pain and antipyretics for fever. The pus needs to be drained and antibiotics prescribed for effective elimination of bacteria. In some instance where the pus is inside the tooth, a root canal treatment is mandatory to save the tooth. In severe cases where the affected tooth has been extensively destroyed, its extraction may become inevitable. Adequate dental hygiene regime may help in averting further recurrences of dental abscess.