A painful infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth is known as an abscessed tooth. Severe tooth decay is the most common cause. Trauma to the tooth, such as when it is broken or chipped, and gingivitis or gum disease are other causes of tooth abscess.
An infection can occur if bacteria are able to enter the centre of the tooth and infect the centre of the tooth through openings caused by dental trauma or gum disease. This infection can also spread from the tooth’s root to the bones that support the tooth. If left untreated, this can lead to severe pain, infection, tooth loss, and a medical emergency.
If the pain goes away and you did not seek treatment, it is possible that the nerve inside the tooth died, which would relieve some of the pain. However, it does not mean that you are well, or that there is not a problem with your tooth.
Dental abscesses can cause a variety of complications, ranging from mild oral inflammation to fatal systemic infections. If an abscess becomes severe enough, patients may require much more than a tooth extraction to prevent bacteria from spreading throughout the body.
These larger issues can arise when bacteria found in a dental pulp or root abscess have the opportunity to escape the confines of the tooth and jaw bone and spread elsewhere.
In addition to the common localized pain and swelling that accompanies a dental abscess, a more rare complication of a tooth abscess can occur called a cavernous sinus thrombosis (CST). This is just one example of another serious issue that can arise from a dental abscess.
Symptoms of the condition include bulging eyes, drooping eyelids, headache, and eye immobility, among other issues. Acute headaches are also common in patients with cavernous sinus thrombosis. Sepsis symptoms indicate a rapid deterioration.
Death is usually caused by sepsis or a central nervous system infection. The mortality rate is now less than 30% thanks to aggressive management. Morbidity, on the other hand, remains high, and complete recovery is uncommon, even with early intervention. One-sixth of patients have some degree of visual impairment, and the other half have cranial nerve deficits.
Patients who develop cavernous sinus thrombosis will require hospitalisation and a lengthy course of strong IV antibiotics to clear the infection. That course of medication could last several weeks.
A tooth extraction can help patients avoid negative outcomes such as cavernous sinus thrombosis in many cases of dental abscesses. The bacteria can be contained and removed from the mouth if a dental abscess is treated early, before they have a chance to spread to nearby structures.
It is critical to recognise the symptoms of a tooth abscess. Consult a dentist if you suspect you have a dental abscess.
A dental abscess—a severe infection located beyond the root of a tooth or between the gums and the teeth—not only causes pain in the patient’s mouth, but it can also lead to broader systemic problems throughout the body.
If the dental abscess is not treated, the bacteria from the infection can spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream.
An oral surgeon may also suggest draining an abscess by making an incision or several incisions in the gum, soft tissue, and muscles of the face and neck.
Certain complications can occur if an abscess is not treated promptly, and two of these are bacteremia and septicemia.
Bacteremia is the presence of bacteria in the blood. Because blood is typically a sterile environment, bacteria from the abscess can have far-reaching consequences if they enter the bloodstream. Bacteremia symptoms include a mild fever, nausea, and distal infection.
Bacteremia may occasionally resolve on its own. It may also progress to septicaemia, a more serious blood infection characterised by chills, high fever, rapid heartbeat, severe nausea, vomiting, and confusion. These symptoms indicate a more widespread immune system inflammatory response to microbes in the blood, tissue, gums, or bone from a tooth abscess. Blood poisoning is a colloquial term for sepsis, which is also used to describe septicaemia.
If the septicaemia is not controlled, sepsis, which is frequently fatal, develops. Severe sepsis is characterised by a systemic inflammatory response, infection, and the presence of organ dysfunction. Sepsis causes shock and organ failure, which ultimately leads to death. Sepsis is extremely difficult to reverse once it has begun.
Fortunately, if a tooth abscess is treated promptly, bacteremia and septicaemia can be avoided. Patients should not wait for the abscess to rupture or worsen on its own. Some abscesses can be painless and chronic, but a patient is also at risk for bacteremia and septicaemia from a chronic infection. Any dental infection in necessitates the immediate attention of a professional.
Fever, swollen lymph nodes, and extreme tooth sensitivity are all signs that an ordinary toothache is developing into something more serious.
Your dentist will perform an emergency exam on the affected area, which may include x-rays, to determine the extent of the problem and any potential causes. Please notify your dentist if anything happened recently that caused trauma to your tooth or if your medical history has changed.
To be able to evaluate the tooth further or provide necessary treatment such as a root canal to address the cause of the abscess, your dentist may need to drain the abscess and/or prescribe an antibiotic regimen.
Many types of dental emergencies can be relieved by draining the abscess, starting a root canal, and taking pain medication.
Visit your GP or go to your nearest hospital for urgent emergency care.
Below you will find some common dental emergencies and steps you can take to prevent further damage or injury until your dentist appointment.
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