Despite the confusion that has surrounded its release and the political hot potato it has become, the Affordable Care Act – more commonly referred to as Obama Care by the media – was designed to provide medical coverage to the millions of Americans who were either without insurance or under insured.
Due to the unfortunate death of Deamonte Driver – a Maryland boy who died after an untreated tooth abscess infection spread to his brain – improved access to dental care for children has become one of the primary goals of the ACA.
In addition to imparting the importance of available dental care to both children and adults alike, Deamonte’s story offers a harsh reminder of how dangerous dental abscess can become if left untreated.
Studies have shown that hundreds of thousands of patients visit the emergency room each year due to dental abscesses, with many of those patients needing admittance to the hospital to undergo treatment.
To help you understand the danger presented by dental abscesses and how to protect you and your family, here is what every patient of Burlingame Dental Arts, your SW Portland kids dentist of choice, should know about these painful infections.
What is a dental abscess?
A dental abscess is bacterial infection that is typically caused by an infected or decayed tooth or an infection located along the gum line or jawbone. Bacteria in the mouth that sticks to your teeth – causing decay and cavities to develop – can also negatively impact your gums, as well. If this bacteria isn’t removed by daily brushing and flossing, it can begin to spread to the soft tissue located inside your teeth and gums. Here an accumulation of pus begins to form, resulting in the formation of an abscess.
Types of dental abscesses
The two main types of dental abscesses that can form in a patient’s mouth come from two different types of infection. These types of abscesses include:
- Periapical abscess – This type of abscess occurs when the pulp inside of a tooth becomes infected, which typically happens when the nerve of a tooth begins to die. An abscess begins to form at the tip of the tooth’s root and can spread from there to the surrounding bone structure that holds the tooth in-place.
- Periodontal abscess – This type of abscess occurs when bacteria accumulates in the space between a patients teeth and gums. An infection then develops within the deep pockets that have formed along the gum line as a result of poor oral hygiene.
While these types of abscess form in different regions of the mouth, they both can cause trauma and advanced tooth decay to patients suffering from the condition.
Sign and symptoms
Patients suffering from a dental abscess may notice several symptoms of the condition that will let them know to seek treatment by scheduling an appointment at Burlingame Dental Arts.
Symptoms of dental abscess include:
- Severe toothache coupled with a sharp, shooting, or throbbing pain
- Loose tooth
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Discomfort while chewing
- Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks
- Swelling along the gum line, particularly over the infected tooth
- Swelling along the upper or lower jaw
Treating an abscess
In most cases patients will need a take a prescribed antibiotic to help fight off the infection caused by the abscess. However, patients need to understand that abscesses won’t go away on their own, and need additional treatments to become fully healed. The longer a patient waits to treat an abscess, the more damage can occur to the long-term health of their teeth and overall physical health.
In cases involving a periodontal abscess, patients will need to have their gums treated, a process that can include making an incision along the gum line, cleaning out the infected material, and repositioning the gum flap to heal. Patients suffering from a periapical abscess may require root canal therapy in order to save the infected tooth.
If you have any questions about the symptoms or treatment options involved in dealing with a dental abscess, make sure to ask any of our doctors at Burlingame Dental Arts.