What is a dental infection / dental abscess?
A dental abscess is a pocket of pus in the tooth, gum or jawbone. A tooth abscess is known as a periapical abscess, whereas a gum abscess is known as a periodontal abscess.
These infections are often painful but sometimes aren’t. Either way, a dental infection should be checked out by your dentist as it can spread if left untreated.
What are some gum and tooth abscess symptoms?
Gum and tooth infection symptoms can vary from one individual to another, but can include:
- Sudden intense, throbbing pain in the infected tooth or gum
- Pain that spreads throughout the jaw on the same side as the infected tooth or gum and is worse when lying down
- Swelling and redness in the face and gums
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth
What causes a dental abscess?
A dental abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria grows into a cavity, from an injury, prior dental work or an untreated cavity.
Poor dental hygiene can contribute to bacterial growth, particularly if plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth. Consuming a lot of sugary and starchy foods and drinks also encourages bacteria and can contribute to the decay that leads to infections.
How can you treat a dental infection?
It’s important to get treatment for a tooth or gum infection as it won’t go away on its own. Don’t visit your GP, as only your dentist can recommend the gum or tooth abscess treatment that’s right for you.
This may be a matter of carrying out a root canal, extracting a tooth, or, in the short term, making a small cut and draining the pus.
Antibiotics are prescribed if the infection if very bad or if it has spread. The best antibiotics for tooth infection is generally either metronidazole or amoxicillin.
What can you do to help prevent a dental infection?
For the best chance of preventing dental infections, you should practice good dental hygiene and have regular check-ups with your dentist. Brush your teeth twice a day and use floss and mouthwash as recommended by your dentist.