When left untreated, abscessed teeth don’t only cause problems for your oral health, but they could have serious repercussions. Abscessed teeth are normally caused by oral infection spread by untreated tooth decay. This infection can reach other parts of the body in the bloodstream. Fortunately, with proper treatment and dental care, you can avoid this. One of the best ways to prevent abscessed teeth is to stay on top of your dental care. Visit a dentist regularly especially if you have a toothache or abnormal symptoms. This will help you to avoid any oral health conditions such as abscessed teeth.
What are abscessed teeth?
Severe tooth decay needs to be treated otherwise it can cause infection. This oral infection can lead to a pocket of pus forming at the base or root of a tooth. This is what is known as an abscessed tooth. The symptoms to look out for as a warning sign are mainly associated with a bad toothache. These need to be treated as soon as possible or it could result in abscessed teeth. Here are some of the common symptoms of abscessed teeth if left untreated:
- Intense throbbing in teeth and gums
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Sensitive teeth
- Swollen neck glands
- Red or swollen gums, possible with sores
- Swollen jaw
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
These symptoms are caused by bacteria entering the dental pulp which is the innermost part of the tooth containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. If not caught the bacteria can spread causing further repercussions and health problems.
What are the repercussions of abscessed teeth?
Any bacterial infection in the body is a potential danger. The development of infection severe enough to cause abscessed teeth could be harmful to the rest of your body, and not only affect your oral health. An infection in the mouth is unfortunately in a prime location for spreading. The bacteria can easily enter the bloodstream or digestive tract. This is why if left untreated, abscessed teeth can cause certain repercussions in the body.
Firstly, the infection starts in the mouth. This could result in infected gums which can lead to a damaged jaw bone. If you have a damaged or infected jaw, this could cause teeth to fall out. Once you lose a tooth this will have repercussions for the rest. It’s important to make sure you seek treatment for a lost or infected tooth as this could affect the alignment of your jaw, it could spread to other teeth, or it could cause eating and digestive problems.
An oral infection also has the potential to spread upwards to your sinuses. This could lead to a sinus infection which could develop into sinusitis. This is an unpleasant condition causing symptoms such as decongestion and runny nose. You might have this problem for several weeks.
The abscessed tooth could also have more serious repercussions. It can cause bacterial endocarditis if it spreads to the heart. This condition affects the functioning of your heart valves which help to pump blood around your body. Bacterial endocarditis is a potentially fatal condition. Poor dental hygiene or untreated dental infections can lead to a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. If this gets into the bloodstream it could settle on the heart lining or in the heart valves.
Abscessed teeth can also cause a condition called Ludwig’s angina due to an infection in the face and jaw. The symptoms of Ludwig’s angina consist of swelling of the tongue, neck pain, and can even lead to respiratory problems. If left untreated, it could result in airway blockages or sepsis. If you have a blocked airway you will need immediate medical attention. Either way, any symptoms of Ludwig’s angina need to be treated right away.
In extreme cases, the infection from abscessed teeth could spread to the brain in the bloodstream and result in a brain abscess. This is left undiagnosed could even lead to a coma. Luckily, these more serious repercussions are rare, but they can still occur if abscessed teeth aren’t seen to. If you have an abscessed tooth you should go to the emergency room if you have the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Swelling causing difficulty swallowing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dizziness, fainting, or confusion
It’s important to remember that in the majority of cases, these repercussions only occur if abscessed teeth are untreated. It’s vital to see a dentist or specialist for immediate treatment if you have any of the symptoms of tooth decay before it leads to an adscessed tooth. Abscessed teeth themselves are completely treatable.
How are abscesses teeth treated?
Normally in order to treat abscessed teeth, a qualified dentist will need to drain the infected area. A small puncture is made in order to release the pus from the infected tooth. It will then be thoroughly cleaned with a saline solution. This process is important because it can otherwise break on its own. If leaked out, the pus can cause the infection to spread. Draining this pus is the most effective way to prevent abscessed teeth from infecting other areas.
Dentists will also prescribe medication for the infection and the necessary pain relief. This may include antibiotics. Once the area has been drained of infection, you will then need a course of antibiotics to assist your body in fighting it. This will prevent any further illness. There could be some recovery time involved, as with many dental procedures, so the doctor will prescribe pain relief so you can deal with this as comfortably as possible.
In some cases the dentist might decide to do a root canal. This is a procedure involving the removal of part of or the entire pulp of the tooth. This is the part that gets infected with abscessed teeth. It’s full of blood vessels so infection could spread to the rest of the body. If the abscessed tooth is decayed beyond repair then the dentist will perform an extraction, and the patient can be fitted with a dental implant as a replacement.
How can you prevent abscessed teeth?
Conscientious dental care and attention to your oral health is the only real way to prevent abscessed teeth. As described, they are a rather extreme result of tooth decay leading to severe infection. The best way to prevent this from happening is by seeing a dentist at the first signs of any toothache. When it comes to oral health it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
In fact, it’s recommended to visit a dentist for regular checkups anyway, even if you feel fine. This way, they’ll be able to spot any irregularities and fix the problem earlier rather than sooner. If you pay for a private dentist, this could save a lot of money in the long run, so there’s no point in waiting for the situation to worsen, and having to undergo more expensive procedures.
Oral health and dental care tips
With adequate dental care you should be able to prevent tooth decay leading to more serious problems such as abscessed teeth. Here are some general oral health and dental care tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
This should be done for 2-3 minutes at a time using gentle circular motions, and a fluoride toothpaste. You could even invest in an electric toothbrush. Change your toothbrush every three months.
Floss once a day. This removes debris caught between your teeth that your toothbrush might miss. It also does wonders for your breath.
- Cut down on smoking
Smoking has a negative effect on your dental and oral health. By quitting or cutting down you’ll notice the difference. It’s a risk factor for gum disease and stains your teeth as well.
- Cut down on sugary foods and drinks
Sugar is a major culprit for cavities, so try to cut down on things like soda, candy and even starchy foods. Starchy foods such as chips, bread and pasta in excess have even been linked to tooth decay.
- Drink more water
Instead of opting for a sugary drink, have water instead. Get into the habit of drinking water throughout the day and other drinks in moderation.
- Dental check ups
Don’t neglect your oral health and visit your dentist regularly. They will check for any early signs of problems so it’s a good idea to go at least once a year. If you feel anything unusual book an appointment with your dentist immediately.
Abscessed teeth are the result of infection caused by untreated tooth decay. It’s important to see a dentist. By staying on top of your oral health you should be able to keep harful conditions like abscessed teeth at bay. Don’t forget about dental care, as if neglected it can lead to further complications. If you would like any advice about dental care best practices, it’s always a good idea to consult your dentist. They will be able to provide you with all the help you need. For more information about abscessed teeth and treatments, get in touch today.