A dental abscess is any pus that forms in the gums, inside the teeth, or in the surrounding bone. These abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection and should be looked at by a dentist straightaway; however, because dental abscesses are not always painful, it's easy to decide to leave them be and hope for the best. This is not advised. If you suspect you have a dental abscess, it's important that you have it inspected by your dentist, whether it is painful or not. If you don't, you are risking one of the following:
1. The pain will increase
Even if your abscess is not painful now, there is a good chance that the pain will kick in soon, and it will continue to get worse and worse the longer you leave it. Painkillers may numb the pain at first, but there is a chance the pain will become so bad that they will not be enough and you may have problems swallowing and moving your mouth. It's worth seeing your dentist now to save yourself some serious pain down the line.
2. The infection may spread
An untreated abscess can lead to further infection, which will not only result in you feeling pretty lousy and with a high temperature, it'll also mean you have a lot more to heal from. On top of that, you're opening yourself up to some rare but serious complications, which include
- Ludwig's Angina -- an infection of the floor of the mouth that leads to swelling and intense pain in the neck and under the tongue. This is a potentially fatal condition.
- Septicaemia -- a serious infection of the blood.
- Brain abscesses – an infection of the lining of the brain.
- Bacterial Endocarditis -- an infection of the lining of the heart.
These infections all require a lot of medical attention and often lead to surgery. While you may think you'll be fine, consider that some people die from oral complications that they didn't think were serious.
Let your dentist check out your suspected abscess. If it is, in fact, an abscess, it will require some sort of medical intervention. If you manage to catch the infection early enough, the treatment may be as simple as having the abscess lanced and drained and a prescription for antibiotics. Sometimes, a root canal will be necessary, but that's a small price to pay for a healthy, pain-free mouth.