Most people know that an abscess on your gums can be painful and annoying, but few people probably fully understand just how dangerous a dental abscess truly can be. Dental abscesses are far from minor; they can cause permanent damage and in some cases, even death. Read on to learn more about this dangerous dental condition.
What is a Dental Abscess?
The bad actor involved in the creation of the conditions that allow an abscess to form is bacteria. A decayed or damaged tooth presents a pathway for the bacteria to enter your gum area, where it forms a pocket of infection. Anyone can get an abscess, but those on certain drugs or those with autoimmune disorders are more prone to this malady. Your first sign of a problem is usually pain and swelling on the gum, which will increase in intensity if not treated promptly with antibiotics. In the worst-case scenario, the infection spreads to your jaws, throat, checks, sinus area and worse. If the infection spreads to your brain, which is rare but does happen, you could be looking at a fatal condition.
Symptoms of a Dental Abscess
- Pain in the gum area.
- It's worth noting that in some instances, pain is not present, so don't rely entirely on the presence of one particular symptom.
- A pocket of pus on the gum.
Treatments for a Dental Abscess
If you've caught your abscess early, a quick appointment with the dentist for some antibiotics, and sometimes a draining of the abscess, should do the trick. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with any pain and inflammation. Try an nsaid (like Aleve) to both relieve pain and lessen the inflammation.
If you've waited until you have become sick from the abscess, very quick action is called for. Don't delay in seeking emergency medical help if you have shortness of breath; the tissue in your mouth and throat can swell from the inflammation of the abscess and cut off your ability to breathe. No matter who you see, make sure that you don't just ignore the problem thinking it will go away on its own; doing so could put you in extreme danger. An infection that affects your mouth, face, and sometimes your brain is nothing to trifle with.
Preventing Dental Abscesses
Bacteria is to blame for dental abscesses, so fighting those nasty bugs is the only way to prevent an abscess from reoccurring. See your dentist for a professional cleaning and checkup as often as recommended and make sure that damaged teeth and cavities get addressed before they cause more problems.