Dental abscesses: What are they and how can they be avoided?

Dental abscesses are a build-up of pus inside your teeth or gums. They can become quite painful if left untreated. In this post, we’ll look at abscesses in more detail, including where they come from, their effects on the body and how they’re treated.

What is an abscess?

An abscess is basically a collection of pus, which is a white, smelly liquid made up of dead cells. It forms when the body is fighting an infection. It’s not only made up of dead bacterial cells but also your own white blood cells too.

When an abscess occurs inside your gums, jaw, or teeth, it’s referred to as a dental abscess.

What causes dental abscesses?

A dental abscess is caused by an infection in your mouth, teeth or gums. Your mouth is full of bacteria, which is normal because most bacteria aren’t harmful. However, when the bad bacteria gain the upper hand over the good bacteria, they cause an infection, which in turn can lead to an abscess. For this reason, it’s important to keep your teeth clean by brushing twice a day.

What are the symptoms of an abscess?

If you think you have an abscess, compare your symptoms to the list below and see if there are any you recognise:

  • Intense, throbbing pain in your teeth or gums
  • A swollen cheek on the same side of your mouth as the pain
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Sensitivity to hot and/or cold foods

What should I do if I think I have an abscess?

If you think you’re suffering from an abscess, then do see your dentist as soon as possible. This is because if left untreated, abscesses can continue to worsen. The infection could spread and cause you to feel unwell. So it’s best to seek out a dental professional as soon as possible.

But if your dentist is unavailable then try another one – you can call 111 to speak to someone who can give you a list of dental clinics in your area, if necessary. While you wait for the appointment, you can take ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve the pain.

But if your pain is severe or if you’re having serious symptoms, then go to your local hospital’s A&E department. They should see you quickly and make sure your abscess is taken care of.

Finally, don’t make an appointment with your GP as they won’t be able to do much – a dental professional is needed to cure an abscess, not a general doctor.

How can I prevent getting an abscess?

The best way to reduce your likelihood of getting an abscess is to look after your teeth and gums. This includes:

  • Brushing your teeth twice day
  • Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Limiting the amount of sugar and sugary foods you eat, such as fruit juice, cakes and sweets.
  • Seeing a dentist every six to twelve months for a regular check-up.

If you’d like to see one of our dentists for a dental check-up then don’t hesitate to book an appointment by speaking with our lovely reception team. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!