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Everything You Need to Know about Oral Abscesses

Gum disease is one of the most widespread oral health issues afflicting Canadians. According to the Canadian Dental Association, “seven out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives”. Oral abscesses are just one type of gum disease that many Canadians may develop throughout their lifetimes. Most oral abscesses typically begin with food particles becoming lodged between the teeth and eventually releasing harmful bacteria into the oral cavity. Even with an extremely strict oral hygiene routine in place, some Canadians may still be at risk of developing an oral or dental infection.

Fortunately, there are certain preventative measures you can take to help offset and avoid these types of issues. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about oral abscesses including the causes, symptoms, preventative measures, and treatment options.

What Is an Oral Abscess?

An oral abscess is a bacterial infection that occurs inside the oral cavity. There are three types of oral abscesses, each of which has its own unique characteristics.

  • Gingival abscesses only exist in the gum tissue. They don’t affect the teeth or the periodontal ligament, but they do infect the space between the teeth and the gum line.
  • Periodontal abscesses are also referred to as lateral abscesses and parietal abscesses. These occur when pus collects within the periodontium tissues that support the bone structure of the teeth.
  • Periapical abscesses occur when infectious pus collects at the root of the tooth. This is typically the result of an infection that started inside a tooth and has now spread outside the tooth. Pus is composed of bacteria, harmful white blood cells, and dead tissue.

What Are the Causes Oral Abscesses and Gum Disease?

Oral abscesses and gum disease are caused by bacterial infections in the mouth. Over time, bacteria may accumulate if decay is present or if food debris and calculus are left behind on the teeth.

There are several culprits that lead to tooth decay and infection, including:

Poor or Lack of Oral Hygiene

Poor or lack of oral hygiene entails not brushing your teeth, flossing or using mouthwash on a regular basis and avoiding going to the dentist once every six months for a checkup and cleaning. Failing to look after your oral and dental health increases the likelihood of bacterial growth inside your mouth which can lead to an array of oral health issues like gum disease, periodontal disease, tooth decay and oral abscesses.

Consuming Too Much Sugar

It’s no secret that high sugar consumption on a regular basis is detrimental to your overall oral health and can cause massive tooth decay. Although Canadians for the most part have cut down their consumption of sugary drinks the problem still persists due to the high level of added sugars in our food products. The solution is to be weary of what you’re consuming, read through nutritional labels carefully and take good care of your oral health.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Abscesses and Gum Disease?

Symptoms of oral abscesses, severe gum disease and nerve problems include the following:

  • Intense pain that radiates through your jawbone, neck and ears
  • Severe sensitivity to hot and cold beverages and foods
  • Pain when biting, chewing or touching the abscessed tooth
  • Fever
  • Difficulty swallowing foods and beverages
  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth due to pain
  • Feeling under the weather
  • A persistent bad taste in your mouth

Preventative Measures for Oral Abscess and Gum Disease

Fortunately there are a lot of highly effective preventative measures that you’re probably already aware of when it comes to your oral health. Practicing stringent oral hygiene methods on a daily basis is a must. These are simple habits that parents should be doing themselves and passing down to their children.

Brush your teeth twice a day to remove surface stains, clean your teeth, and give your mouth a fresh feeling. Floss at minimum once a day before going to bed to remove food particles stuck between your teeth. If possible, maybe even floss twice a day or in between meals to be extra vigilant. If flossing and brushing more than the recommended amount isn’t plausible, then you should at least rinse your mouth out with water after every meal to remove excess food particles.

Adding mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine is also a great way to help kill germs and infection-causing bacteria in your mouth. Choose a non-alcoholic and non-abrasive mouthwash to protect your tooth enamel and help keep it intact.

How to Treat Oral Abscesses and Gum Disease

Oral abscesses are highly infectious and therefore, must immediately be treated by a dental health professional. Early detection is key to preventing the infection from spreading throughout the oral cavity and to other parts of your body. For that reason, it’s important that you schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings once six months or as needed.

First, your dentist will examine your entire oral cavity, locate the abscess and then determine the severity of the infection so that the proper treatment can be implemented. This may involve draining the pus from the infected area and maybe some antibiotic.

One of the most common treatments for periodontal abscesses is to use scaling and root planing. During this procedure, your dentist will remove plaque and tartar from the gum line by carefully scraping it off. If the abscess involves the nerve, then your dentist might perform a root canal procedure to remove the infected pulp from the root of the tooth. In some cases, tooth extraction might also be necessary, but that’s determined on a case-by-case basis.

If you suspect you might be suffering from gum disease or an oral abscess, don’t wait! Book an appointment for a checkup at Princeview Dental Group today! We have experience treating oral abscesses and gum disease and we’re always accepting new patients! Contact us to learn more.

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