An abscessed tooth is an infection caused by tooth decay, periodontal disease or a cracked tooth. These problems can let bacteria enter the pulp (the soft tissue of a tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue) and can lead to pulp death. When pus builds up at the root tip in the jaw bone, it forms a pus-pocket called an abscess. If the abscess is not treated, it can lead to a serious infection in the jaw bone, teeth and surrounding tissues.
Symptoms of an abscess include:
redness in the gums
bad taste in the mouth
An abscessed tooth can be treated with various treatments, depending on the severity of the infection. Here are some of the treatment methods a dentist may consider:
antibiotics, to destroy the bacteria causing the infection
drainage of the infection
cleaning the space between the tooth and the gum if the cause is from gum disease
root canal treatment if the abscess is caused by decay or a cracked tooth
Following good oral hygiene practices and routine dental exams will significantly reduce your risk of developing a tooth abscess. If your teeth experience trauma (become loosened or chipped), see your dentist as soon as possible.
Several medications are available to help create more relaxed, comfortable dental visits. Some drugs control pain, some help you relax, and others put you into a deep sleep during dental treatment. You and your dentist can discuss a number of factors when deciding which drugs to use for your treatment. The type of procedure, your overall health, history of allergies and your anxiety level are considered when determining which approach is best for your particular case.
Your dentist might recommend that your child be administered anesthesia or sedation to relax them in order to safely complete some dental procedures. Click here to download questions to ask your dentist before your child undergoes any type of anesthesia.
Local anesthesia is a type of anesthetic used to prevent pain in a specific area of your mouth during treatment by blocking the nerves that sense or transmit pain, which numbs mouth tissues. Your dentist may apply a topical anesthetic to numb an area in preparation for administering an injectable local anesthetic. Topical anesthetics also may be used to soothe painful mouth sores. Injectable anesthetics may be used in such procedures as filling cavities, preparing teeth for crowns or treating gum disease.
Depending on the procedure, you may need a pain reliever after treatment. Analgesics are used to relieve pain and can be broken into two groups: non-narcotic and narcotic. Non-narcotic are the most commonly used drugs for relief of toothache or pain following dental treatment. They include aspirin, acetaminophen and non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Narcotic analgesics, such as opioids, act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. They are used for more severe pain.
Be sure to talk with your dentist about how to properly secure and dispose of any unused, unwanted or expired medications, especially if there are any children in the household. Also, take the time to talk with your children about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
For some dental visits, your dentist may use a sedative, which can induce moderate sedation. Sedatives can be administered before or during dental procedures. Sedation methods include inhalation (using nitrous oxide), oral (by taking a pill) and intravenous (by injection). More complex treatments may require drugs that can induce deep sedation, reducing consciousness in order to relieve both pain and anxiety. On occasion, general anesthesia can be used, in which drugs cause a temporary loss of consciousness.
Dentists use the pain and anxiety control techniques mentioned above to treat millions of patients safely every year. Even so, taking any medication involves a certain amount of risk. That's why the ADA urges you to take an active role in your oral health care. This means understanding the risks and benefits involved in dental treatment, so that you and your dentist can make the best decisions about the treatment that is right for you. Working together, you and your dentist can choose the appropriate steps to make your dental visit as safe and comfortable as possible, and to help you keep a healthy smile.
Whether you call it bad breath or halitosis, it’s an unpleasant condition that’s cause for embarrassment. If you’re concerned about bad breath, see your dentist. Bad breath can be caused by a number of sources, and he or she can help identify the cause and determine the best treatment.
What causes bad breath?
Food. What you eat affects the air you exhale, like garlic or onions. If you don't brush and floss daily, particles of food can remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.
Gum disease. Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth can also be one of the warning signs of gum disease; which is caused by plaque.
Dry mouth. This occurs when the flow of saliva decreases and can be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth. Without enough saliva, food particles are not cleaned away. If you suffer from dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe anartificial saliva, or suggest using sugarless candy or increase your fluid intake.
Smoking and tobacco. In addition to staining teeth and being bad for overall health, tobacco can add to bad breath. Tobacco reduces your ability to taste foods and irritates gum tissues. Tobacco users are more likely to suffer from gum disease and are at greater risk for developing oral cancer. If you use tobacco, ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit.
Medical conditions. Some diseases have symptoms related to bad breath. Sinus or lung infections, bronchitis, diabetes, and some liver or kidney diseases may be associated with bad breath.
If you’re concerned about what’s causing your bad breath, make an appointment to see your dentist. Regular checkups allow your dentist to detect any problems such as gum disease or dry mouth. Bad breath may be the sign of a medical disorder. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your primary care physician.
Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating gum disease and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath. Brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily with floss. Brush your tongue, too. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.
It’s important to note that mouthwash will only mask the odor temporarily. Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have a long-lasting effect on bad breath. If you must constantly use a breath freshener to hide unpleasant mouth odor, see your dentist.
There are many reasons your gums could bleed.
In some cases, bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease. If your gums bleed easily or bleed when you brush, talk to your dentist about your oral health. Gingivitis is reversible and preventable.
If you’ve just started a new flossing routine, for instance, your gums may bleed at first as they get used to cleaning between the teeth. This usually goes away on its own in about a week. Some pregnant women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Gums also may bleed a little when brushing or flossing. If you take blood thinners, these medications may cause your gums to bleed. Contact your physician if the bleeding does not stop quickly. Your gums could also be bleeding if you brush too hard. Use an extra-soft or soft-bristled toothbrush when brushing your teeth.
If your gums bleed regularly or enough to worry you, make an appointment with your dentist or physician. It could be a sign that something else is wrong.
Always remember to brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day and schedule regular dental visits.
Brushing your teeth is an important part of your oral hygiene routine. For a healthy mouth and smile the ADA recommends you:
Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
Make sure to use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
The proper brushing technique is to:
Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.
Of course, brushing your teeth is only a part of a complete oral care routine. You should also make sure to:
Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Tooth decay-causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
Talk to your dentist about what types of oral care products will be most effective for you. The ADA Seal lets you know the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Look for the ADA Seal on fluoride toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, interdental cleaners, oral irrigators, mouth rinses and other oral hygiene products.