Most people are familiar with the phrase “abscessed tooth,” and just as many have probably experienced one before. Still, there is some mystery as to what exactly an abscessed tooth is, how it develops, and why it’s treated the way it is. In strictest terms, an “abscess” is a pocket of pus, or bacteria. This pocket develops near the tip of a tooth’s root, below the bone, when a bacterial infection spreads from within the tooth out the end of the root. Bacterial infections of the pulp, or inner tissues of the tooth, are caused by tooth decay, gum disease, and in some cases, broken teeth. Although antibiotics may be prescribed to help with short-term pain, the only way to permanently remove the infection is a root canal. If you’re experiencing a moderate to severe toothache and think an abscess might be to blame, lookout for these 4 textbook symptoms.
Dull, Throbbing Pain
Most people with abscessed teeth report having a throbbing sensation, or as if they can feel their heartbeat in their tooth. The pain is typically dull, or squeezing, rather than a sharp, shooting kind of pain. The reason for this throb is the buildup of bacteria within the tooth, which has a finite amount of space. The bacteria, however, continually reproduce causing a significant pressure increase inside the walls of the tooth, resulting in significant pain.
Sensitivity to Cold and Hot
Cold sensitivity is a symptom of many dental problems, but sensitivity to hot drinks or food is somewhat unique to an abscessed tooth. If you find that a cup of coffee is just as painful as ice cream, odds are the tooth is abscessed. In addition, most abscessed teeth are so sensitive that they can barely be chewed on, if at all. Merely tapping the tooth with your finger will instigate moderate to severe pain.
Pain that interferes with sleep
Not many dental problems are so severe that they keep a person from sleeping or wake them up in the middle of the night, but an abscessed tooth certainly can. If your pain is keeping you awake, even after taking over the counter pain medication, an abscess is likely to blame.
Pain That Gets Worse When Lying Down or Bending Over
It’s a question not many dentists will ask, but if your toothache gets worse when you lie down or bend over to touch your toes, you can bet an abscess is probably the reason why. When you head isn’t elevated, blood more easily reaches the head and neck area, adding to the pressure that causes pain.
If you are experiencing these symptoms or even one or two, it is time to contact your dentist near Daleville, IN before the infection starts to endanger other parts of the body.