Signs of a Dental Abscess

When you have an abscess, a bacterial infection has caused a pocket of pus to form in your tooth or gum. There are different types of abscesses, but they can all cause pain and even lead to life-threatening complications without treatment.

At South Bay Prosthodontics in Torrance, California, our team offers quick and effective treatments for dental emergencies, like abscesses. Here’s what you should know about this painful condition and how to recognize it.

Understanding abscesses

Abscesses develop when bacteria get into your tooth or gums. However, their cause and location can vary depending on the type of abscess you have.

Periapical abscess

This type of abscess occurs when bacteria reach the pulp within your tooth. This is the innermost portion of your tooth and contains nerve tissue and tiny blood vessels. In most cases, a periapical abscess develops because of a cavity — or opening — on the surface of your tooth.

Periodontal abscess

When you have a periodontal abscess, the pocket forms in the gum on the side of your tooth root. In many cases, they affect both your tooth and gum. These abscesses are the third most common dental emergency and often develop due to gum disease. However, you can also get a periodontal abscess because of a mouth injury.

Gingival abscess

Unlike periapical and periodontal abscesses, gingival abscesses don’t involve your teeth at all. Instead, they form in your gum tissue, usually from food getting lodged in the gum that causes an infection.

No matter which kind of abscess you have, it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as symptoms occur.

Signs of an abscess

One of the main symptoms of an abscess is throbbing pain. This discomfort usually occurs in your tooth or your gums and can radiate into your jaw, neck, or ear. It also comes on suddenly and often worsens with time or if you lie down.

Other signs of an abscess include:

If an abscess ruptures, you can also experience almost immediate pain relief, along with a burst of foul-tasting and foul-smelling fluid in your mouth.

Without treatment, the infection causing your abscess can spread to your jaw, neck, head, and even your brain. Seek emergency care if you have a high fever, rapid heartbeat, difficulty swallowing, and confusion.

Treating an abscess

Abscess treatment focuses on clearing up your infection and easing your pain. To determine our next steps, we perform a comprehensive evaluation and take X-rays to identify the location and extent of your infection.

Based on your diagnosis, we could recommend a variety of treatments, such as:

If your abscess involves a severely damaged tooth, it could require extraction before we drain the abscess.

Fortunately, with proper treatment, your abscess should clear up within a few days. You can also reduce your risks for this dental issue by practicing good oral hygiene and scheduling regular dental checkups.

Don’t wait to seek dental treatment if you notice signs of an abscess. Contact South Bay Prosthodontics by calling 310-378-9261 or walking into our Torrance, California, office during regular business hours.

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