Pus in a tooth or the surrounding gum tissue is a common sign of infection from an abscess. If left untreated, the infection can worsen and spread to other parts of your body, potentially becoming life-threatening. For this reason, you should always seek treatment for a dental abscess as soon as possible.
But what exactly does an abscess look like? And what symptoms should you be aware of? Let’s take a look.
What are the symptoms of pus in the tooth?
Dental abscesses often show the following signs:
- Throbbing pain in the tooth
- Pain when eating or drinking anything hot or cold
- Sensitivity to temperature changes in general
- Swollen lymph nodes under the jawbone line
- A small pocket of pus near the gumline close to the aching tooth.
How is an abscessed tooth diagnosed?
If a dentist suspects a patient has a drainable abscess, they will perform a physical examination. If symptoms are present, but an abscess can’t be seen visually, the dentist may order an x-ray to see if it is in the deepest part of the tooth.
How is an abscessed tooth treated by a dentist?
Our dentists will choose from several treatments and may use a combination of the ones described below. You should know that an emergency dentist’s main priority is to get you out of pain, and they may book you for a dental procedure the next day or the earliest available appointment.
Treatment options will be specific to your needs, but our dentists often use a blend of the procedures listed below.
If possible, the dentist will cut open the abscess to allow the bacterial infection to drain. They may also remove dead tissue and wash the area with saline solution.
Draining a dental abscess isn’t always possible or easy. A severe infection can diminish the effects of a local anaesthetic, making it difficult for the dentist to numb the area for treatment. For example, lower molars are hard to numb when severe infection occurs. In these instances, patients will be given antibiotics to reduce the infection so that local anaesthetics become effective again for treatment.
Root canal treatment
A root canal is a procedure used to remove the infected nerve, veins and arteries in the centre of a tooth’s root. This helps to drain pus and removes the infection. Once the infection has healed, the dentist will use a dental crown to restore the weakened tooth and give it more strength and protection.
If the tooth can’t be saved, our dentists have no option but to extract it to drain the pus and help the area heal.
Not treating your swelling can be dangerous, causing problems like difficulty breathing or swallowing. If the antibiotics aren’t helping, it’s time to seek advice from your dentist. You may be hospitalised if necessary.
How to treat an abscessed tooth at home?
Baking soda is a reasonably priced, safe way to decrease the number of bacteria in your mouth and relieve gum pain. You can use this common household item in different ways to improve oral health, including using it as a home treatment for teeth infections.
There are a few methods you can use to treat a tooth infection with baking soda
To create a baking soda mixture that will rinse infections inside or on top of your tooth, simply combine one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of water and table salt. Swish around in your mouth for several minutes before spitting out the mixture, and repeat until all the mixture is gone.
Salt can be used as a medical treatment. When there is an infection in your tooth, put one teaspoon of table salt or more in a glass of warm water and rinse. The salt water will reduce bacteria, remove debris from your mouth, and break up pus around the tooth. This will help the wound heal properly.
To make a saltwater rinse to cleanse a tooth infection, mix one teaspoon of salt with two cups of warm water, and swirl the mixture around your mouth for several minutes before spitting it out and repeating as necessary.
You can add garlic to your diet or make a paste from crushed cloves to take advantage of its germ-fighting abilities.
Apply the paste to infected areas two times every day.
If you’re in severe pain, bite down on a garlic clove for several minutes with the affected tooth. This will ease discomfort and prevent bacteria growth.
A homemade cold compress can help reduce the pain and swelling associated with toothaches.
Try wrapping ice in a small cloth or towel to form a smaller, more manageable ice pack, then applying it directly to the outside of your mouth.
For gum soreness, you can use a bag of frozen peas or fruit or even an ice cube massaged directly on the affected area. This remedy can be used as needed, up to several times per day.
Can a tooth abscess be prevented?
There are several things you can do to lower your risk of a dental abscess or emergency, and they include:
- Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing before going to bed to avoid tooth decay
- Limiting your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
- Quit smoking
- Visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
- Treating any chipped or broken tooth as soon as possible
- Maintain overall good physical health to prevent a weakened immune system
Don’t wait for pain and infection to spread
If you’re currently going through any of the tooth abscess symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek out dental care right away. You can get in touch with your dentist for a regular appointment or contact an emergency dentist. Make an appointment at one of our 15 No Gaps Dental clinics conveniently located near you. We understand how daunting and stressful dental emergencies can be, so our friendly team is more than happy to help relieve you of dental pain. Call us now on (02) 8007 6727.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.