Tooth abscesses are a serious dental problem and need immediate medical care. Whether the ER will drain an abscess or not depends on the severity of the case and if an underlying health-related condition caused it.
You can also go to an emergency dental practice for draining an abscess. ER doctors can also give you painkillers or antibiotics to tide you over until you can visit a dentist.
While you can go to an ER for an emergency, it is always advisable to visit a dentist if possible.
A tooth abscess needs immediate care and can even be life-threatening if left untreated for too long. Here’s everything you need to know about a tooth abscess:
What Are Tooth Abscesses?
A tooth abscess occurs when pus collects in a tooth or surrounds a tooth. The pus is formed by a bacterial infection and can be white or yellow, thick and oozing.
Your body tries to fight the bacterial infection through inflammation, which causes an overload of cells in the infected area. The added pressure is very painful and incapacitates the patient.
Causes Behind a Tooth Abscess
Dental infections are always the culprit behind a tooth abscess. They infect the tooth or the area surrounding the tooth. Having gum disease can also give you a dental abscess.
When an infection develops inside the tooth, it is called an endodontic infection. The blood vessels and nerves around the tooth are also affected by it. Any large cracks, cavities or trauma to the tooth can lead to endodontic infection.
If not treated on time, the infection can spread to the bone underneath the tooth. This makes the situation more complicated and painful for the patient.
When the infection starts in the gums or bone around a tooth, it is called a periodontal infection. Endodontic and periodontic infections require different kinds of treatments, so it is important to classify the infection correctly.
Periodontal infections might be treated with surgery in the gums, whereas endodontic infections require root canals. If saving the tooth is not essential, the affected tooth can be extracted in either case.
Are Tooth Abscesses Dangerous?
Tooth abscesses are dangerous because they are unpredictable. There’s no telling where they might spread to. When left untreated, they get progressively more painful and harmful, so it is important to seek emergency care.
If the infection starts spreading outwards, it causes swelling, which presents as a small pimple known as a fistula. Fortunately, these can be easily drained and might not even hurt.
On the other hand, if it starts spreading inwards, it can be very dangerous. It might spread as far as the bloodstream and cause septicemia. Depending on where it spreads, it could even block your airway or affect your brain.
Is a Tooth Abscess an Emergency Situation?
You can never predict where a dental infection might spread or how severe it might be. Therefore, every tooth abscess must be treated as an emergency, and medical attention must be sought immediately.
Swelling in the gums is a serious symptom, whether it is painful or not, and you should visit your dentist as soon as possible.
The aim of emergency treatment is to put an end to the spread of infection. The dentist will prescribe antibiotics with this in mind. If the abscess is very severe, the dentist will make an incision and drain the pus from the affected area.
This process drastically reduces the pain and swelling. You will also be given intravenous antibiotics to quicken the healing process.
Since abscesses often get more painful the longer you wait before seeing a dentist, it is advisable to seek treatment as soon as possible. However, no matter how bad it gets, you should never try to drain the abscess by yourself.
You might end up making it worse by letting new bacteria into the wound. Also, a botched drainage will make it even more difficult and painful to treat. If a dentist is not readily available, go to the ER for immediate treatment and follow up with a dentist whenever possible.
An abscess in the tooth is a serious situation requiring immediate medical attention. If a dentist is not available, you can visit the ER to treat your abscess.
If you are experiencing symptoms like fever, nausea or chills, you should seek immediate care as they are symptoms of a severe infection. Timely intervention will spare you a lot of agony later, so visit your dentist if you notice any swelling in your gums.