Not all infections in the mouth and teeth are painful. There are many cases where the infection causes little or even no pain at all. However, no pain doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat the infection, as this only leads to the infection spreading and the pain becoming even worse.
A dental abscess is an example of a serious infection that you should not take lightly. If you do not seek treatment immediately, the abscess can lead to swelling and intense pain. However, the worst part is that the abscess can lead to even worse health complications, such as:
- If the infection is allowed to spread to the gums around the tooth and the bone responsible for holding it, the bone may become too damaged. This may cause the tooth to shift and move around and, eventually, lead to tooth loss.
- If the abscess is caused by a cavity, the decay will only continue to grow and cause so much damage that the affected tooth will have to be extracted or removed.
- The infection may also spread through the blood vessels and end up in the brain, possibly causing a brain abscess. This is an even more serious medical condition that is difficult to treat and may lead to a coma.
- The infection may also become a sinus infection if the sinuses become filled with the pus produced by the dental abscess.
- It is also possible for the bacteria from the infection to reach the heart through the blood vessels, which may cause a heart condition that’s known as bacterial endocarditis.
- A serious infection that’s known as Ludwig’s angina is known to originate from untreated tooth infections. The said infection affects part of the face and the lower jaw, which can grow large enough to block the airways, causing suffocation and in some cases, even death.
What You Should Do
Call your dentist to set an appointment as soon as you feel any pain in your tooth or gums. You should always take care of tooth infections immediately to prevent the infection from spreading to the other parts of your body.
In the meantime, you can try rinsing your mouth several times a day with a solution made out of ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of water. This can help relieve some of the pain and pressure, as well as draw some of the pus out.
What Your Dentist Will Do
Depending on the type of infection, your dentist may choose to do any of the following:
- In cases where a fistula has formed, your dentist will insert a thin piece of material into the fistula and take an X-ray of the affected tooth to find out where the fistula leads. The dentist will then clean out the infected area. The fistula will then close on its own eventually.
- If the infection starts inside the tooth, your dentist will have to drain the abscess by making a small hole. The tooth will then require a root canal treatment, then a dental restoration such as a filling or a crown to help restore its function and form.
- In worse cases, the dentist may need to remove the tooth, but not before draining the large abscess first. This is to make sure that the infection does not spread any further.
- Sometimes, the abscess may be caused by severe periodontal disease. In that case, the periodontal disease will have to be treated first before the abscess is taken care of.
Additionally, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and painkillers to help the abscess heal and prevent the infection from spreading.
If you notice any swelling in your head and neck, including your mouth, don’t delay going to the dentist or your general physician. Only they can help you diagnose and treat the swelling.