Is an Abscess Considered a Dental Emergency?Munil Koppanati
A dental abscess is most certainly a dental emergency. A tooth abscess is basically an infection of the tooth and can cause swelling, pain, and discomfort. Some other warning signs of a tooth abscess include fever, jaw pain especially when chewing or biting down on foods, neck discomfort, and even ear pain. These signs typically indicate a more severe infection, and warrant immediate dental treatment.
The issue arises when a patient neglects to seek emergency treatment for an abscess, as this can allow the infection to spread through the mouth and into the jaw, causing massive damage to the underlying bone structure.
More severe cases of a dental abscess can even lead to an infection spreading to the brain. Therefore, any patient who experiences sudden onset pain and swelling of the gums and teeth should get evaluated by a dentist as quickly as possible.
When Should You Seek Emergency Dental Services for an Abscessed Tooth?
Any signs of increased sensitivity, pain, and swelling of the gums and teeth can be a sign of an abscessed tooth. Fevers are also a sign that the infection may be getting worse or even spreading.
Needless to say, patients should seek emergency dental services at the first signs of pain, fever, and swelling to adequately treat any underlying infection. A dental professional can also determine if there has been any spread of the infection, and work to treat and prevent the infection from spreading to other areas.
What Will an Emergency Dentist Do for an Abscess?
Depending on the severity of symptoms, the dentist may recommend either an x-ray or CT scan to determine the extent of spread of the infection. The x-ray in particular helps to identify which tooth is infected, while the CT helps determine if there is spread of the infection to other areas in the head.
Once an abscess is located, the dentist will attempt to treat the underlying infection. The exact method of treatment is based on how severe the infection is and how badly the tooth has been affected.
If the infection is relatively superficial and the tooth is still healthy, a dentist may decide to simply drain the abscess. This involves creating a small cut at the site of the abscess, draining the area, and cleaning it with water.
If the infection is affecting the root of a tooth, a root canal can be performed which can save the rest of the tooth. If a root is removed, the remaining tooth may receive a cap on top of it to help keep ensure the tooth is sturdy and functional.
Lastly, if the infection is so severe that the tooth is completely destroyed, it may be better to simply remove the entire tooth and drain the abscess.
In all instances, antibiotics may be recommended to help kill any underlying infection especially if there are signs of infection spreading to the jaw bone.