Signs You May Have an Abscessed Tooth

tooth-abscessEven if we take good care of our teeth by brushing and flossing daily and seeing our dentist for regular check ups, we can encounter a dental injury that puts us at risk for a tooth abscess. Contact sports collisions or even something as innocent as biting down hard on a nut or popcorn kernel can cause a chip or fracture in a tooth, which can lead to an infection. If a dental infection is not addressed, it can eventually lead to a tooth abscess. Knowing the signs of a possible abscess is vital to seeking attention in a timely manner.

Signs of a Potential Tooth Abscess

Contact your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  1. Pain while chewing. The pain can escalate quickly from mild and annoying to an excruciating shooting pain that is characteristic of abcesses.
  2. Swollen, tender gums. Often, pain in the gums is a signal that an abscess is forming and pus may be present in the part of the tooth beneath the gum line. This swelling can spread to your jaw, neck and glands if the infection is not treated.
  3. Persistent foul breath. Bad breath can be a signal that an infection is present in your mouth.
  4. A fever. Your body uses a raised body temperature to fight off infections, so this can be a strong indicator of a dental problem that has progressed into a tooth abscess.

Caring For An Abscessed Tooth

A tooth abscess will not go away on its own. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of an abscess, make an urgent appointment with your dentist. He or she can use an examination and X-rays to pinpoint the source of your dental pain, and discuss options for treatment, which may include antibiotics, incision and drainage of pus, or referral to an endodontist for a root canal.

However, if you are having trouble breathing, go directly to an emergency room. Infections such as abscesses can cause life-threatening symptoms if they progress far enough, and medical intervention at that point is essential.

“Never hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist if you suspect you have a tooth abscess,” says Dr. Melanie Bauer, a dentist in practice at Dr. Carol Ford & Associates in central Phoenix. “Prompt treatment of an abscess is important to your dental and overall health.”

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