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After dinner, you turn on Netflix and watch your favorite show. While you were eating, you noticed that it hurt a little when you ate bread that was too hard. As the night went on, you started to feel tired and got a headache. Since you have to work tomorrow, it’s best to go to bed early. As you lie down, the pain gets worse. You feel a sharp, stabbing pain that goes with the beat of your heart. So you try to sleep after taking two Tylenol. You are tired and sleepy when you wake up in the morning. When you look in the mirror, your face is crooked, and the gum over a tooth with a big silver filling is red, shiny, and swollen. What do you do now?
You should call your dentist right away. You have a tooth abscess that needs to be taken care of right away. Serious health problems can come from putting off treatment.
A pocket of pus caused by bacteria is called an abscess. The abscess looks like an infected grape. Epithelial cells make up the outside layer. The pus needs to be drained out of the abscess, and the lining needs to be taken off. Infections can be stopped with antibiotics. Antibiotics can help relieve symptoms, but they can’t heal the abscess on their own.
Abscesses come in two forms:
Periapical Abscess: This is at the end of the roots of the teeth that are hurt. It can be caused by tooth decay, old dental work, or trauma, and is usually treated with root canal therapy. In severe cases, the tooth may need to be taken out.
Periodontal Abscess: This is in the gum on the side of the tooth. It can be caused by not taking care of your teeth, eating a lot of sugar, grinding your teeth while you sleep, having a medical condition like diabetes, or taking certain drugs like phenobarbital. A periodontal abscess can be treated by cleaning, scaling, curettage, or in the worst cases, by taking out the tooth.
Decay can cause pulpitis, which is an infection of the pulp. If pulpitis isn’t treated, it can lead to an abscess, which can lead to cellulitis, which can lead to sepsis, which is a condition that can kill you. If you think you have an abscess, get help right away.
Take care of your mouth at home by brushing it twice a day for two minutes with a small, soft toothbrush, flossing once a day before bed, eating less sugar, using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash (without alcohol), and wearing a mouth guard if you grind your teeth or play contact sports.
Going to the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
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