What is a Tooth Abscess? Ask Our Hickory NC Oral Surgeon

Tooth abscess symptoms include severe, throbbing pain; swollen lymph nodes, and difficulty breathing/swallowing. If you believe that you have developed a tooth abscess, contact our emergency dentist office immediately.

If you are not currently suffering from a tooth abscess, keep reading to learn more about this painful condition, and how to prevent one from developing.

What Causes a Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess is a bacterial infection of the tooth. They occur when bacteria enter the dental pulp through a cavity, chip, or crack in the tooth, and spread all the way down to the root. Abscesses are usually the result of an untreated dental cavity or injury, which is why it’s important to seek treatment quickly if you ever experience dental trauma.

Left untreated, tooth abscesses can quickly become spread throughout the body and become life-threatening—fashion designer Hugo Boss, Muppets creator Jim Henson, and Jethro Tull musician John Glascock are among the many who have died from an untreated tooth abscess. Luckily, as long as antibiotic treatment is administered swiftly, most patients will make a full recovery within 5 days.

Tooth Abscess Symptoms

The primary symptom of a tooth abscess is a severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear, as well as tender, swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck. Patients may also experience fever or difficulty breathing and swallowing.

The Importance of Immediate Treatment 

If you suspect you are developing a tooth abscess, it is important to see an emergency dentist immediately. If you have a fever and facial swelling, and cannot reach an emergency dentist, go to an emergency room. These symptoms usually indicate that the infection has spread deeper into your jaw and surrounding tissues, or even to other areas of your body. Even if the abscess ruptures, you will still need antibiotic treatment, as the infection may spread to your jaw and to other areas of your head and neck, causing conditions like sepsis or necrotizing fasciitis.

It is important to understand that a dental abscess can become life-threatening within just a few hours. Jim Henson, for instance, began to develop breathing issues at 2 a.m. on May 15th, 1990, and passed away two hours later. X-rays showed multiple abscesses in his lungs, which were thought to have originated as an aggressive tooth infection.

Experiencing Oral Pain? Our Hickory Dentist is Here to Help 

If you are experiencing pain caused by a cavity, cracked tooth, or other type of oral trauma, it is important to seek treatment as early as possible. An untreated crack, chip or cavity can easily become a gateway for dangerous oral bacteria. If you don’t want to experience the symptoms described above, your best bet is regular oral healthcare and prompt, professional dental treatment. To schedule an appointment with our Hickory dentist office, please click here.