Dental Abscess: Symptoms, Reasons, and Treatments

A dental abscess is a collection of pus that can form inside the teeth, in the gums or in the bone that holds the teeth in place. It’s caused by a bacterial infection.

Dental abscesses are often painful, but not always. In either case, they should be looked at by a dentist and it’s important to get help as soon as possible, as abscesses do not go away on their own and they can sometimes spread to other parts of the body and make you ill.

What Are the Symptoms of Tooth Abscess?

Signs and symptoms of a tooth abscess include the following:

  • Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting
  • Fever
  • Swelling in your face or cheek
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
  • bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

What Causes Dental Abscesses?

Your mouth is full of bacteria, which form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque so if you do not keep your teeth clean, acids produced by the bacteria in plaque can damage your teeth and gums, leading to tooth decay or gum disease.

The following can increase your chances of developing a dental abscess:

  • poor oral hygiene – plaque can build-up on your teeth if you do not floss and brush your teeth regularly
  • consuming lots of sugary or starchy food and drink – these can encourage the growth of bacteria in plaque and may lead to decay that can result in an abscess
  • an injury or previous surgery to your teeth or gums – bacteria can get into any damaged parts of the teeth or gums
  • having a weakened immune system – this includes people with certain underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, and those having treatment, including steroid medication or chemotherapy

How to Prevent Dental Abscesses?

You can reduce your risk of developing dental abscesses by keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

To do this, you should:

  • use floss or an interdental brush at least once a day to clean between your teeth and under the gum line
  • brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day – spending at least 2 minutes each time
  • avoid rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing because this washes the protective toothpaste away – just spit out any excess toothpaste
  • cut down on sugary and starchy food and drinks – particularly between meals or shortly before going to bed
  • visit your dentist regularly – your dentist can suggest how often you should have a check-up, based on your oral health

How Do You Treat a Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess can arise from infections that develop inside the tooth which happens because bacteria enter the tooth when it’s chipped, broken, or decaying.

Once the bacteria reach the center of the tooth and the tooth becomes infected, pus accumulates in the tooth. The pus in the tooth swells and results in a toothache. If not treated, the infection could spread to the gums and bone of the mouth. so tooth abscess should be treated by a dentist, but some home remedies can relieve the discomfort caused by the infection.

The following home remedies can be applied along with prescribed treatments.

1. Saltwater rinse

Rinsing your mouth with salt water is an easy and affordable option for temporary relief of your abscessed tooth. It can also promote wound healing and healthy gums.

To use this remedy:

  1. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of normal table salt with 1/2 cup of warm tap water.
  2. Rinse your mouth with the saltwater. Try to swish it around inside your mouth for at least two minutes.
  3. Spit the water out.

2. Baking soda

Baking soda is another affordable option for treating an abscessed tooth. You may even already have some in your kitchen cabinet.

Baking soda is excellent for removing plaque in the mouth. It also has antibacterial properties.

To use this remedy:

  1. Mix 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda with 1/2 cup of water and a pinch of salt.
  2. Swish the mixture in your mouth for up to five minutes.
  3. Spit out, and repeat until you’ve finished the mixture.

You can repeat this up to two times per day.

3. Oregano essential oil

Oregano oil is an essential oil that can be purchased in a health food store or drugstore.

Oregano oil is antibacterial and antioxidant. It may help reduce the swelling and pain of an abscessed tooth. Be sure to dilute any essential oil with a carrier oil to prevent further irritation.  To use this remedy:

  1. Mix a few drops of oregano essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil.
  2. Apply a few drops of this mixture to a cotton ball or swab.
  3. Hold the cotton ball on the infected area for two to three minutes.
  4. Remove the cotton ball or swab. Leave the mixture on for at least 10 minutes, then rinse.

4. Cold compress

A cold compress will help reduce pain and swelling.

To use this remedy:

  1. Place ice cubes in a dry towel.
  2. Hold the compress against your skin near the affected area.
  3. The compress can be used for 15-minute intervals.

5. Clove essential oil

Clove oil has been used since ancient times as a natural toothache remedy. It may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

It comes in diluted forms as well as the very concentrated clove essential oil. If using the essential oil form, remember to dilute it (3 to 5 drops of essential oil in an ounce of carrier oil).

You can use this remedy in several ways:

  • Apply the diluted oil to the affected area by placing a few drops on a cotton ball or swab.
  • You can also make a clove oil mouthwash by placing a few drops of the oil into a small glass of water.

6. Thyme essential oil

Thyme oil is another potent essential oil that may kill parasites, fight bacteria, and reduce swelling…but be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil before use.

You can use this remedy in several ways:

  • Diluted thyme oil can be applied to the affected area with a cotton ball or swab.
  • You can also make a mouthwash by adding a few drops of diluted thyme oil to a small glass of water.

7. Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another excellent remedy for fighting a bacterial infection. It can also help reduce plaque and bleeding gums.

To use this remedy:

  1. Mix equal parts 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with water.
  2. Swish the solution around in your mouth, then spit. Make sure not to swallow any of the solutions.

8. Oil pulling

Oil pulling is another ancient means of oral hygiene that’s been used to treat mouth ailments.

It’s believed that oil pulling removes toxins from the teeth and gums. Limited studies suggest that oil pulling may be a good treatment for bleeding gums, bad breath, and reducing bacteria. However, there’s not enough scientific evidence to confirm whether it’s effective for use in oral health.

To use this remedy:

  1. Take 1 tablespoon of your chosen oil into your mouth.
  2. Vigorously swish the oil around through your teeth for up to 20 minutes.
  3. Don’t swallow the oil. Spit the oil out in a garbage can — not your sink — to avoid clogged pipes.

When to See a Doctor?

An abscessed tooth is a serious infection that could spread to other parts of the face and eyes if left untreated. So if you have a tooth abscess, see a doctor immediately and a dentist as soon as possible. The home remedies listed above are meant as complementary treatments to the ones prescribed by a doctor. You may need immediate antibiotics and dental care.

Resources:

nhs.uk

mayoclinic.org

healthline.com

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.

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