Dental Abscess: Pain Is Important Signal To Seek Emergency Care

Pain is a signal your body produces to alert you to a problem. If you have a toothache, it is important to make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. You may be developing an abscess, which can lead to uncomfortable--and eventually life threatening--symptoms if not treated in a timely fashion. Here's what that mouth pain might be trying to tell you--pay attention so you can protect your health.

What is an abscess?

An abscess is an area of infection in the mouth. It can be on your gum, on or under your tongue, in your throat, or even in the pulp of your tooth. It begins as a cavity or tooth infection, but the bacteria inside your tooth can spread to these other areas of the mouth. Pus forms where the bacteria has established itself, and the area begins to hurt.

Symptoms of an abscess include:

  • tenderness

  • swelling

  • pain at the site of the infection, which can radiate to the jaw and face

  • redness of the area and possibly the face

  • difficulty opening your mouth or swallowing

The pain you experience is your body's way of telling you that the infection needs to be removed. If you have these symptoms but do not see a dentist, the infection will worsen.

What are the dangers of infection?

A dental abscess will not resolve on its own. An emergency dentist needs to drain the abscess and fix the source of the problem by doing a dental procedure such as a filling or root canal. He also needs to prescribe an antibiotic that will prevent the spread of the bacteria in your body. If an abscess is left to itself, the bacteria can spread throughout your body, which puts your health in danger. Signs that you need immediate medical care include:

  • fever

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • chills

  • difficulty breathing

Although it seems hard to believe people would allow mouth pain to progress to this point, the truth is that emergency rooms are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of hospitalizations for dental abscesses. A study published by the American Dental Association (ADA) reports a 41% increase in admissions for abscesses over the course of the three-year study--a total of 61,439 people. There were 66 deaths attributed to these infections.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a dental abscess, see your dentist like Milan Simanek DDS right away to have it treated. Delaying will only increase the consequences of the problem. Remember, the pain you feel is a warning from your body--pay attention!