Dento-alveolar Abscess

A painful swelling which is filled with pus (a yellow-green liquid) is an abscess. A Dento-alveolar Abscess is a painful swelling inside your mouth seen near the tooth and gums. It occurs when your gums or teeth are infected / decayed / hurt / irritated, in any manner.

There are 2 types of abscess that can form in your mouth-

  • Gum related Abscess (Periodontal Abscess) - caused due to an infection found in the space between tooth and gums. This occurs when any small food particles get wedged between gum and teeth.
  • Tooth related abscess (Periapical Abscess) - caused due to any deep cavities/infection inside the tooth itself. This can also arise from broken or discoloured teeth. This infection can be seen on an X-Ray at the tip of the tooth’s root.
  • Most of the abscesses are very painful.
  • You may notice some pain while chewing; sensitivity to hot / cold foods and beverages; a swelling(pimple-like/ boil-like) near your gums; sometimes the swelling can be large and more extensive on your face. If it involves the face, skin on that face may turn reddish and feel warm on touch.
  • There may be a green/yellow fluid when you press the swelling and it is salty and bitter to taste and gives a bad odour in your mouth.
  • You may develop fever.

An abscess is a serious condition! It occurs when the infection/ irritation in your tooth/gums (respectively) is ignored for many days. Hence consult your dentist at the earliest. Until then, DO NOT EAT ANYTHING HOT AND DO NOT PLACE ANY HOT PACK IN THE AREA.

  • Do not give hot compression with hot towel/hot water bath on your skin.
  • Do not cover your face with any cloth (this gives a warm compression and the swelling increases).
  • Do not apply any oils / pain balms / ointment on your skin when there is a swelling.
  • Do not delay the visit to your doctor / dentist / oral surgeon; do so immediately.

The dentists or oral surgeons will do the following to reduce the abscess and relieve you of pain

  • Examine and take x-rays to see which tooth is causing the problem.
  • Clean the area thoroughly with medicine
  • Drain the pus that is collected and relieve the pain
  • Prescribe medicines for controlling the infection and pain relief.
  • Suggest appropriate food to eat, and encourage rest.

An untreated abscess leads to life-threatening complication.

If it is from your upper teeth it can lead to severe infection of your sinuses and a brain abscess. An infection from any of lower teeth can spread fast to neck and cause choking (difficult breathing).

Very severe infections can cause sepsis (high fever, increased heart rate, increased breathing effort, sweating and stomach pain) and later septic shock. Never underestimate the severity of the condition.

  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Visit your dentist every 6 months.
  • Prompt treatment for any cavities/gum problems.
  • Do not ignore any painless fractured tooth/discoloured tooth (dead tooth).

Last updated on 11 December, 2018.

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