A tooth can become abscessed because of a bacterial infection, and that is often the result of tooth decay that is left untreated. An infection may also occur after some type of accident or dental injury. Whatever the cause may be, the good news about an abscess is that it is usually easily treated by your dentist, although that treatment may involve either pulling the tooth or performing a root canal procedure to get rid of the infection and save the affected tooth. Of course, the first step in treating an abscess is to visit your dentist. If you don’t – as is the case with any type of infection – it could turn into a very serious situation. But when it comes to infection, nature has a way of providing some very obvious signs that something is wrong. Here are some symptoms you may experience if you have an abscessed tooth.
- An extremely painful toothache: An abscessed tooth often produces a persistent, throbbing pain that can radiate out to the neck, ear and/or jaw. This type of pain is hard to miss.
- Hot/cold sensitivity: Abscesses may cause the teeth or gum tissue to be sensitive to hot and cold food and beverages.
- Pressure sensitivity: If you have an abscess tooth, you’ll no doubt experience a lot of pain when you bite down or chew food.
- Other signs of infection: An abscess can produce many of the same symptoms as any other infection, including a fever, swelling around the infection (in this case, swelling of your face or cheek), and swollen/tender lymph nodes in your neck or under your jaw.
- A ruptured abscess: If the abscess ruptures, you’ll experience sudden relief of pain and a nasty smelling, foul tasting fluid inside your mouth.
If you notice any or all of these symptoms, contact your dentist right away. It’s important to remember that an abscess is an infection, and any infection can be quite serious – even life-threatening – if it’s left untreated. So if you can’t reach your dentist and you have a fever and/or swelling of your face, visit a local emergency room right away since these could be signs that the infection has spread.
An abscessed tooth is not something any of us want to experience, which is why it’s so important to visit your dentist twice a year and practice a daily oral hygiene routine at home. We may not be able to prevent all infections from forming, but we can make great strides in lessening our chances of developing tooth decay – which can lead to an abscess if left untreated – by brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist.