Not only is a tooth abscess uncomfortable and bad for your dental hygiene - in some instances it can even be fatal. In 2007, a 12-year-old boy in Maryland, named Deamont Driver, died after bacteria from an abscessed tooth spread to his brain, according to The New York Times. The sad story drew a wide amount of media attention, and is often brought up in conversation about the country's access to oral health care.
A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus, caused by a bacterial infection. It can occur in different regions on the tooth and for a variety of reasons. A periapical tooth abscess, which occurs at the tip of the root, usually occurs due to an untreated dental cavity, prior dental work or an injury.
Identifying a tooth abscess
There are a few ways to properly identify an abscess on your tooth. If you feel severe and persistent toothaches or sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, you may have an abscessed tooth, according to Mayo Clinic.
A bitter taste in the mouth or a foul smell in your breath, according to WebMD, could also indicate that you are experiencing an abscess. If you have these symptoms during a lull in pain, it may indicate that your abscess ruptured.
Other symptoms include swelling in your face, lower jaw or gums. If one or more of these symptoms occur, it is advisable that you see a dentist, and if you cannot reach your dentist soon, schedule a doctor's appointment or head to the emergency room. Go to the emergency room especially if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, which could indicate that the infection has spread deep into your jaw and is affecting the tissue.
Treating abscessed teeth
Your dentist will make it his or her goal to get rid of the infection. If you need serious treatment for a tooth abscess but are in financial need or have no dental insurance, you should consider looking into other options like discount dental plans.
A dentist can open up and drain the abscess. Then, he or she will wash the area with salt water, according to Mayo Clinic.
A root canal may be considered in some situations where your tooth can be saved, and this process will eliminate the infection by removing the diseased pulp from inside your tooth.
In some cases, when it is too late, it is necessary to extract the affected tooth. After pulling it, your dentist can drain the abscess to rid your body of the infection.
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