Oh the Pain! How to Identify a Dental Abscess, and What You Can Do About It
There are some things in life that are generally considered to be rather painful. Childbirth, breaking a limb, a back injury - these are all events that can certainly test your pain tolerance. But what about your mouth? If you've ever had one, you'll know that the pain of a dental abscess can be extreme, and it can escalate very quickly. Good dental hygiene is the best way to avoid a dental abscess, but this is not a guarantee, and they can still affect pretty much anyone
So how do you know if that little twinge of pain is the sign of an impending dental abscess? And what can you do about it before you see your dentist?
Abscess or Toothache?
The pain is generally quite mild in the beginning, and can easily be mistaken for a more straightforward toothache. Pay careful attention to a tooth that hurts while eating, or while any kind of pressure is applied, such as when you accidentally press it with your tongue. What begins as mild pain can quickly escalate when you have a dental abscess. While any kind of tooth pain is reason to call your dentist, it's important to determine whether or not you actually have a dental abscess, as they can be quite serious if left untreated.
Cracks and Swelling?
To try and find out whether you have a dental abscess, or if the pain is being caused by another factor, you need to look out for a few things. Are there any obvious cracks, chips, or cavities on the tooth in question? This could have allowed bacteria to gather inside your mouth or jaw, resulting in the abscess. You might even be able to see or feel a small, sensitive swelling in your mouth or jaw.
When you believe you have an abscess, you need to see your dentist as soon as possible. Don't delay, because it will only get worse without medication. In the short term, you'll need to do something about the increasing pain. Ibuprofen offers pain relief as well as an anti-inflammatory agent that can help to reduce the swelling.
An small ice pack can also be helpful, but hold it to the outside of your jaw, as it can be too painful to directly apply it to the affected area of your gums.
Just Like a Pimple
The swelling is basically a large deposit of bacteria, and it will be looking for a way to leave your body. This will be full of pus, just like many other kinds of infections around your body. You might see a small white bump on your gum around the affected tooth.
It will look just like a pimple, but you should refrain from trying to pop it - let your dentist take care of it. Sometimes it will burst of its own accord, and you will certainly taste this - it's really not pleasant.
Rinse your mouth with salted water (one teaspoon of salt dissolved into a cup of warm water). This removes the unpleasant taste and keeps your mouth clean If the gum continues to bleed, a moist (clean) tea bag is good for applying pressure until you see your dentist.
If the abscess bursts of its own accord, don't be tempted to use this as an excuse for not seeing your dentist. The pain might subside, but the infection will return without medical intervention, and your dentist will probably need to prescribe antibiotics. They might also apply adhesive gauze to the burst area, encouraging it to completely drain. It's really not something you should delay, because an abscess can never be completely healed at home.
A dental abscess can be rather painful, and it's not the sort of thing you would wish on your worst enemy. This is why it's really important to be able to identify when one's about to strike, and just what you can do about it. To learn more, contact a professional like Longano Bruno V. Dr with any questions you have.