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Show Your Teeth Some Respect

Think about how many times per day you rely on your teeth. You use them to chew breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You press your tongue against them to make certain sounds when you speak. There's really no doubt about it — your teeth are important, and they deserve your respect. You can pay them that respect by visiting your dentist for regular cleaning and checkup appointments. You should also call at the first sign of dental pain, tooth discoloration, or other oral health changes. Read more about dentists and dentistry here on this blog, where we dive deep into related topics.

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Show Your Teeth Some Respect

Do You Have Tooth Pain Or Swollen Gums? Make Sure It's Not An Abscess

by April Myers

If you have been having a toothache, you may have been using over-the-counter medication until you get into the dentist. However, if you notice a sore on your gums or are experiencing a toothache along with a fever, gum swelling, bad breath, and/or taste changes, you may have an abscess. Abscesses are dangerous and require the help of an emergency dentist. Take a look at why this condition is so serious and how a dentist can help.

What Causes an Abscess?

Abscesses are usually caused by severe tooth decay. They can also be caused by an injury like a chipped or broken tooth that isn't taken care of soon enough, so bacteria is able to infiltrate the enamel. Gum disease that hasn't been treated can also lead to abscesses since bacteria can get into gum pockets.

Why Is an Abscess a Dental Emergency?

An abscess is a collection of pus from a bacterial infection. You can sometimes see abscesses on your gums (they may look like a pimple on your gums), but abscesses can also form internally—such as periapical abscesses, which are near tooth roots. You may be tempted to lance or pop an abscess yourself, but this is very dangerous.

First, the infection may be around blood, nerves, and vessels, so taking care of it yourself can cause a lot of pain. Secondly, abscesses that aren't treated or that break open can lead to sepsis, or blood poisoning. Sepsis isn't actually poisoning; it's when the immune system starts attacking the body in response to an infection. Sepsis can cause chronic pain, fatigue, and organ damage; it can also be fatal.

How Will Your Dentist Treat the Problem?

Your dentist will use local anesthetic and drain the infected abscess if it's external. He or she will then debride the area of dead tissue and wash out the area with saline. You may need to take antibiotics or even go in for intravenous fluids to prevent sepsis. Your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics.

If you have a bad fever or your dentist suspects you are at risk for sepsis, he or she may recommend that you visit a dentist at a hospital so that they can monitor you and administer intravenous fluids to keep your blood pressure stable and prevent shock.

Once the abscess has been properly treated, the next course of treatment will depend on the cause of your abscess. For instance, if your abscess was caused by infected pulp, then your dentist may need to perform a root canal or extract the tooth completely. If your abscess was caused by gum disease, then your dentist may recommend deep cleaning below the gum line.

Don't wait for the problem to get worse; reach out to an emergency dentist for more help.

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