Dental Emergencies: What to Do When You Have an Abscessed Tooth
A tooth abscess refers to the collection of pus in the tooth, gums or bones holding the teeth in place. An abscess occurs due to a bacterial infection, and it can cause an intense, throbbing pain that spreads to the cheeks, ears and entire face. If left untreated, the infection could spread to other parts of the body.
An abscessed tooth should be handled as a dental emergency. Once the pain spreads to the rest of the face, one may have a hard time eating, talking or even lying down. Therefore, contact your dentist immediately to schedule an appointment.
Treatment for tooth abscess
Treatment for this condition involves draining the pus from the tooth. However, before the drainage process, the dentist carries out an X-ray to determine the severity of the infection. Sometimes, they may even order a CT scan to examine the extent of the infection in other areas around the neck.
Once this is done, your dentist may try to salvage the teeth through root canal treatmenta. However, before exploring treatment options, they have to administer antibiotics to bring the infection down. If the tooth is badly worn, especially due to dental caries, they may have to pull it out.
Pre-treatment pain management
Sometimes, you may not get immediate treatment for an abscessed tooth. If the pain occurs at night, you may have to weather it out till the morning. How can you manage the pain as you await treatment? Below are some simple tips.
Rinse with salty water
Salt is a natural disinfectant that helps kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. Rinsing your mouth with warm, salty water can help reduce the pain of an abscessed tooth. The salt kills bacteria and reduces their action on the infected tooth and gums. It also reduces the swelling and provides temporary relief.
Drink lots of water
A dry mouth is a recipe for disaster, especially amidst a dental emergency. The food particles lodged between the teeth feed bacteria and increase their activity on the infected tooth. By drinking lots of water, you flush down the particles and leave nothing for the bacteria to act on. If you're experiencing tooth sensitivity because of the abscess, drink warm fluids only.
Keep your head upright
Lying down with a swollen face and a painful tooth can aggravate your condition. When you lie down, there is increased blood flow to the head and face. This increases pressure on the sensitive parts of your face, and the pain becomes more pronounced and unbearable. If you need to sleep, raise your head using a pillow to minimise the pressure.
An abscessed tooth calls for immediate treatment to avoid severe symptoms. Observe the above pain management steps as you wait to consult an emergency dentist.