A dental abscess is another term for an infection in your tooth, usually in the center of the tooth where the pulp is located. While early treatment of a dental abscess is typically associated with a favorable outcome, an untreated tooth abscess poses health dangers. Here are some potential health consequences that could occur if your dental abscess is not recognized and treated quickly.
A dental abscess produces bacteria-laden pus and if the infection is not treated quickly, it can spread to other areas of your body such as your sinus cavity, tonsils, and pharynx. In severe cases, the infection from your tooth can travel to your bloodstream and even to your heart, its valves, and other surrounding structures. In addition, an untreated dental abscess can raise the risk for a systemic blood infection known as sepsis, which is a medical emergency and requires infusions of intravenous antibiotics.
If you experience a toothache, gum inflammation, bleeding gums, a bad taste in your mouth when biting down, or if you notice green or yellow drainage coming out of your tooth, see your dentist right away. They will perform an oral examination and take x-rays to determine if you have an abscess. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your dentist will recommend a treatment option that will include antibiotics.
If your dental abscess is very advanced or if delayed treatment has caused nerve or tissue damage, then conservative treatment options such as oral antibiotics and a root canal may be inappropriate. For a severe dental abscess, your dentist may need to extract your tooth to help prevent further complications such as those described above.
While your general dentist can perform a root canal, they may refer you to an endodontist who is a root canal specialist. After the endodontist's examination, they will determine if the tooth can be saved with a root canal or if it should be extracted.
If you develop any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. When a dental abscess is treated quickly, complications are less likely to develop and you may be less likely to require a tooth extraction. It is important to note, that if your dentist extracts your infected tooth, they may recommend that a dental implant be placed in the empty space to help lower your risk for chewing problems and shifting of your other teeth
Contact a dentist near you to learn more.