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Are you experiencing a sharp pain in your mouth? There’s a chance it’s related to a dental abscess. An abscess consists of small pockets that fill with bacterial pus. There are two types of dental abscess. The first is a periapical, or tooth abscess, which affects the root of the tooth. The other type, a periodontal (gum) abscess, affects the gums. A gum abscess usually occurs in severe cases of periodontal disease, when the gums have pulled away from the teeth, causing pockets to form. The good news is, that with the right treatment, you can recover from either type and regain control of your oral health.

How Do You Know if You Have an Abscess?

Tooth decay or a periodontal infection can be hard to detect at first, but it’s typically easy to tell when an abscess forms. The most obvious symptom is intense pain. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes pain from a tooth abscess as continuous, sharp, and often severe enough to be disruptive. There’s a chance you experience trouble chewing, sensitivity to hot or cold foods and/or even swollen lymph nodes (which help fight infection throughout the body.)

In addition to the pain, you could also feel the abscess in your mouth. In the case of a gum abscess, a lesion will form in the affected area. A small bump that looks like a blemish can also form on the gum near a tooth abscess.

What Should You Do?

Make sure to come see us here at Carolina Smile Design if you suspect or discover either type of abscess. If you want to ease the pain before your appointment, you can practice swishing with salt water. We might also recommend taking an over-the-counter pain medication.

How Would We Treat It?

The first thing we would do in treating either a tooth or gum abscess is to drain the bacteria from the pocket and thoroughly clean out the area. We will also prescribe antibiotics to kill any remaining bacteria.

The next step in treatment depends on the location of the abscess:

  • In the case of a tooth abscess, a root canal is often performed. During this process, we remove the pulp from the center of the tooth, clean the area out thoroughly, then fill up the canal and add a crown to support the tooth so it looks healthy and natural.
  • Treating a gum abscess involves seeing a periodontist to assist in draining the infection and providing a deep cleaning to the area with scaling and root planing. The process removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the tooth and from below the gumline. It also smooths the surface of the tooth and root, making it more difficult for bacteria to cling to it.

How Do You Keep It From Coming Back?

Once a dental abscess has been treated and resolved, practicing good oral care at home can help prevent the issue from resurfacing. It helps to choose a toothpaste that offers germ-fighting protection and helps prevent tartar buildup. No matter what your at-home routine is, it’s always a good idea to see your dentist regularly. If you have a history of infection in your gums, we might want to see you more often to make sure your gums stay happy and healthy. Make an appointment with us today!