A dental abscess is the accumulation of pus that forms inside the teeth, in the gums, or in the bone that holds the tooth in place. It is caused by a bacterial infection. When the abscess is located at the end of the tooth, it is called a periapical abscess. If the abscess is in the gum, it is called a periodontal abscess.
A dental abscess usually accompanies a periodontal disease, which is characterized by red and swollen gums. A gum abscess typically manifests as an inflamed area against the inflamed tooth. The symptoms of a gum abscess include the following:
- An intense and throbbing pain in the affected area
- Pain that spreads to the ear, jaw, and neck on the same side of the body as the affected gum or tooth
- Pain that gets worse when lying down
- Redness and swelling in the face
- A tender, loose, or discolored tooth
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food or drink
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth and bad breath
- High temperature when the infection spreads
A dental abscess is a very uncomfortable condition. In severe cases, it may keep you from being able to open your mouth. You may also find it difficult to breathe or swallow. You should see a specialist immediately if you feel the symptoms of a dental abscess. If you live in Davis County, see a periodontist in Layton.
While waiting for your dental appointment, you can take medications to temporarily alleviate your pain. Ibuprofen works well. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is another option. If you are over the age of 16, you can take both ibuprofen and paracetamol simultaneously, as long they are within the recommended dosages.
Avoid cold or hot food and drinks that worsen the pain. Eat soft foods and chew on the unaffected side of the mouth. Brush your teeth using a soft toothbrush, and avoid flossing until the abscess is treated.
In severe cases, you may need to remove the affected tooth and drain the abscess or get a root canal. Your Layton periodontist can recommend the best course of treatment for your specific health needs.