An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. It may occur at the tip of the root, known as a periapical abscess, or in the gums alongside a tooth root, known as a periodontal abscess.
Dentists can treat an abscessed tooth and often save your tooth with root canal treatment, but sometimes the tooth needs to be pulled.
Finding an abscess can be scary for anyone, and you might wonder what you should do next. Our team of emergency dentists at 2K Dental in Parma, Akron, and Cleveland, Ohio, can help you deal with an abscess.
Here are the steps Dr. George Kontoveros and Dr. Anthony Klobas recommend after you find an abscess.
Determine if you can care for abscess at home
Sometimes an abscess is treatable at home. Most of the time, you should seek medical attention. If an abscess worsens, the infection could spread to the deeper tissues and even into the bloodstream, causing sepsis, a potentially life-threatening medical emergency.
If your abscess is small, meaning it’s less than 1 centimeter or a half-inch across, you can try self-care methods to deal with it. Apply a warm compress to the abscess for 30 minutes, four times a day, and seek medical attention if it doesn’t get better.
Don’t try to drain an abscess by squeezing, pressing, or poking it with a sharp object. It can cause the infected material to go deeper or even into your bloodstream, requiring immediate medical attention.
You should always seek medical attention for an abscess larger than 1 centimeter or half an inch across or one that enlarges, becomes more painful, or is accompanied by a fever.
What to expect at an appointment for an abscess
Once you locate an oral abscess and seek medical attention, your dentist asks for your medical history. We’ll also want to know how long the abscess has been present, if you’ve had a fever, if you have any allergies, or if you’re taking any medications.
The dentist examines the abscess and surrounding tissues and carefully numbs the entire site before cutting it open and draining the infection. Depending on the severity of the abscess, packing may be placed inside the cavity to ensure the infection completely drains.
If you have an oral abscess, don’t wait, as it can lead to serious medical problems if left untreated. Call the office nearest you today if you require emergency dentistry, and one of our staff members will get you in.