Is an Abscess Serious?

Dental emergencies, including abscesses, can pop up seemingly overnight. If you spot the tell-tale signs of an abscess, you might wonder if you can tough it out at home δΈ€ or if you need treatment. Because dental abscesses can lead to serious complications, Dr. Shebani Pahwa, Dr. Maham Siddiqui, and Dr. Samantha Ben-Ezra offer emergency dental treatment here at SPA Dental Group for a variety of conditions, including dental abscesses.

Below, we highlight why treating a dental abscess is so important. 

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a painful lump filled with a collection of pus. They can develop anywhere in the body, including under the skin, in your armpit, in an organ, or in your mouth. When an infection develops in your body, your body responds by sending white blood cells to combat the infection. The white blood cells, damaged tissue, and bacteria together form the swollen, tender lump filled with pus.  

Regardless of where the abscess is located, untreated abscesses can turn into a serious and potentially life-threatening situation. 

Understanding how dental abscesses form

Dental abscesses can form in different parts of your mouth as a result of a bacterial infection. Three types of dental abscesses include:

  1. Periapical abscesses, which form at the tip of your tooth’s root
  2. Periodontal abscesses, which forms on the gum next to your roots
  3. Gingival abscesses, which form on the gums (and may resemble a pimple-looking bump)

You might suspect you have an abscess if you see the bump, or you have pain that radiates from your tooth to your ear/neck. Severe infections may also cause fatigue, a bad taste in your mouth, and a fever.

Is it serious?

An untreated dental abscess can cause swelling and pain that interferes with your ability to eat and speak comfortably. In addition to the radiating pain, you might notice that the pain intensifies when you lay down, making it more difficult to sleep. 

In addition to pain and discomfort, untreated bacterial infections can also cause other serious problems including:

Thankfully, there are many different treatments to stop the spread of the infection.

Treating an abscess 

Your treatment depends on what type of abscess you have and how severe the infection is. Potential treatments include antibiotics, a root canal (if the infection has compromised the root of your tooth), draining the abscess, and tooth extraction. Foreign objects, such as popcorn kernels, can embed and contribute to abscesses in your gums. For this reason, part of your treatment may require foreign debris removal from your gums.

A note on antibiotics: if you are prescribed antibiotics, it’s important to complete your full prescription even if you start to feel better. Always take prescribed medication as directed. 

If you suspect that your symptoms are related to a dental abscess, don’t put off your appointment. Our compassionate team offers emergency care when you need it the most. To learn more about dental abscesses or to schedule an emergency dental appointment, call the location of your choice or request your appointment online.

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