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Dental Emergencies

Dental Abscess / Twooth Swelling

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 aren’t always. In either case, they should be looked at by a dentist. It's important to get help as soon as possible, because abscesses don't go away on their own. They can sometimes spread to other parts of the body and make you ill.

Causes of Dental Abscesses?

Our mouth is full of bacteria, which form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque.

If you don't 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 don't 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
  • Abscess Treatment

    Dental abscesses are treated by removing the source of the infection and draining away the pus.

    Depending on the location of the abscess and how severe the infection is, possible treatments include:

  • Removing the affected tooth (extraction) – this may be necessary if root canal treatment isn't possible
  • Root canal treatment – a procedure to remove the abscess from the root of an affected tooth before filling and sealing it
  • Incision and drainage – where a small cut (incision) is made in the gum to drain the abscess (this is usually only a temporary solution and further treatment may be needed)

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