Deadly Dental Problem: Abscesses and You

It may sound disgusting, but everyone has bacteria in their mouths, and this is perfectly normal. No matter how obsessive you are with your dental hygiene, these little bugs just persist, and normally their presence goes unnoticed. The problems occur when dental conditions allow that bacteria to invade and wreak havoc, resulting in a dental abscess. These infections are not just annoying; they can actually be deadly and are nothing to trifle with. Read on to learn more about handling a dental abscess.

What causes a dental abscess?

When bacteria is allowed to enter the gums, infection happens. How does it get in? Most often, it finds it's way inside via a cavity or by skin breaks on the inside of your mouth. Some people are just more prone to have problems with abscesses, such as those undergoing chemotherapy. If you are already afflicted by other gum maladies, like gingivitis and periodontitis, you are more likely to develop this dangerous condition. Once the bacteria enters the gum line, a pocket of pus forms, and then the infection spreads to your surrounding cheeks, throat, sinus cavities and, in some instances, even your brain.

How do I know I have an abscess?

Most people feel pain at some point due to the infection, but for some this symptom never shows up at all.

You can, however, usually feel (or see) the pocket of pus that forms on your gum. You may also experience fever, chills and sweating, nausea, or vomiting.

What can be done to treat the abscess?

The first and most important thing to know is that if you experience any swelling in your mouth or throat area, get to an emergency room immediately. In some cases, the infection can cause enough inflammation to actually close off your access to air, and this can cause a life-threatening medical emergency. No matter what, seek medical help quickly, since another dangerous side-effect of the abscess is the possibility of it spreading to your brain.

Your doctor or periodontist will likely prescribe an antibiotic to get rid of the infection and may drain the pus pocket, which should bring some immediate relief. Over-the-counter pain reliever is often suggested unless the infection is more severe and causing you a great deal of pain in your face (sinus) and jaw area, which could require stronger meds.

Once your infection is under control, the source of the problem must be identified and eliminated. Cavities should be filled, and some increased attention to dental hygiene may be needed. Discuss this with your dentist or periodontist. Visit sites such as to learn more or set up an appointment.