If you have excruciating pain in one of your teeth, you could be dealing with an abscessed tooth. An abscessed tooth is a painful condition that is caused by an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth. The most common cause of an abscessed tooth is severe decay. However, an abscessed tooth can also result from trauma to a tooth or gum disease. Severe decay and tooth trauma such as a chipped or broken tooth can cause openings in a tooth’s enamel which allows bacteria to infect the center of a tooth (pulp). This infection can also spread from the pulp to the root of the tooth and/or the surrounding bones and structure.
Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include severe, throbbing, and/or shooting pain in the area of the mouth where the abscess is located. Other symptoms include fever, pain when chewing, sensitivity to hot and cold, bad breath, swollen neck glands, redness and swelling of the gums, an open, draining sore on the side of the gum and more.
If you think you may have an abscessed tooth, you should notify your dentist immediately, even if it is after traditional dentist office hours. Many dental practices have a dentist that is on call to handle dental emergencies such as abscessed teeth. To eliminate the infection, the abscess may need to be drained. This can be achieved with a procedure called a root canal. After a root canal procedure, the center of the tooth is this cleaned and sealed to prevent further infection. In some cases of an abscessed tooth, the tooth is extracted, allowing drainage through the socket. A third way to drain an abscess is to make an incision into the swollen gum tissue.
In most cases, antibiotics are prescribed to help fight off the infection. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin and Alleve may be used to alleviate the pain. Your dentist may also recommend that you rinse your mouth with warm salty water.
Failing to seek treatment for an abscessed tooth will only lead to more serious and more painful complications including tooth loss. If you have severe tooth pain and think it may be due to an abscessed tooth, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.
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