A dental abscess causes a painful inflammation (redness and swelling) which usually causes a deep and throbbing pain which starts in the tooth and spreads to the jawline. Abscesses can also cause a high temperature and fever, a metal taste in the mouth (from pus build-up), difficulties opening the mouth and jaw and trouble sleeping. Treatment depends on the location and severity of the abscess.
What Causes A Dental Abscess?
Dental abscesses are usually caused by a damaged or decaying tooth (usually starting in the centre or pulp of the tooth) which becomes infected. Abscesses can also be the result of infected diseased gums (periodontal disease). A dental abscess is not the same as gum disease, each of which will require different treatments.
This decay may be caused by poor oral hygiene, a diet high in sugar or tooth enamel destroying acid, or genetically weak teeth. Bacteria adhere to the plaque that builds up on teeth and if this enters a cavity in the teeth or gums, causing a dental abscess. A patient with a weakened immune system is more likely to get an abscess as they are less able to fight off disease.
How Are Dental Abscesses Diagnosed?
Dental abscesses are diagnosed by dental professionals. They will not simply go away with time. Dentists diagnose using X-rays which scan the teeth and gums to determine if there is an infection. They will tap on your teeth (as a tooth with an abscess is usually sensitive to touch and pressure) and depending on the severity of the infection, may also send you to have a CT scan, to ensure the abscess has not spread down the jawline and neck.
How Are Dental Abscesses Treated?
The dentist will initially prescribe pain relief and antibiotics to reduce the symptoms and treat the infection caused by the dental abscess. After this, a more complex dental treatment will be needed to drain the abscess of pus and wash out the infected area.
Dentists may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory gel and medication to reduce swelling. These steps will treat the initial symptoms of the infection caused by the abscess.
Long term, the dentist will have to prevent more pus building up and reinfection. This will be achieved by encouraging a change in dental hygiene in the patient and a change in diet, to prevent further plaque build-up.
The patient will be encouraged to use of mouth wash and flossing to prevent gum disease. Patients are advised not to brush their teeth immediately after food or mouth wash use, to prevent further enamel and dentine (the hard protective surfaces of the tooth) loss or decay.
The dentist will then have to fix the damaged tooth. This may involve a root canal treatment where the dentist drills into the tooth root and fills and seals the tooth pulp (the inner part of the tooth) to block up the damaged area, afterwards capping the tooth with a crown to make the tooth stronger.
A dental crown will need to be monitored to ensure it has stayed in place and replaced if it moves or cracks. The best dental crowns match the colour of the teeth and should last a lifetime. The NHS cannot provide for more complex crowns; for this a patient will need to go for private treatment.
The infected tooth may have to be removed if the infection is deemed too severe as a result of a dental abscess. The extraction of a tooth or teeth may be under general anaesthetic, much like when wisdom teeth are removed. Extraction of a tooth will only be considered as a viable option after extensive antibiotic treatments and other options have failed in the treatment of the dental abscess.
For a periodontal abscess (one in the gums), a dentist may also smooth the gums, scaling to prevent further plaque build-up and treat the symptoms of the gum disease. NHS services only have the budget for very basic root canal and tooth removal treatments, and so more complex gum disease, treatments are very limited.
After treatment, further appointments may be needed to ensure the infection has not spread. As with all dental infections, it is about prevention as well as treatment, and so regular check-ups will follow an abscess treatment, to ensure that any signs of further infection are combatted before a new abscess can form and a dental emergency occurs.
Early intervention of tooth infections and abscesses is the best form of prevention.
How Can GlobMed Help?
GlobMed recognises the severity of a tooth abscess, and the debilitating pain they can cause. We empathise with the necessity of preventing tooth loss for a patient and the importance of a good smile in self-esteem, professionally and in relationships.
We make it our upmost priority to find all our dental clients the best treatments, both in the UK and abroad, to make sure we can find a treatment plan that saves you from tooth extraction and prevents further decay.
We are a team of highly specialised professionals, with extensive knowledge of the UK medical system and other worldwide medical healthcare systems and services. We use our skill and networks to connect you to the best resources available at affordable prices. We appreciate the limitations of the current NHS dental services, despite their clinical excellence, and we connect our clients to dentists that can go above and beyond to tailor their treatments to you and your needs.