If you have swelling around a particular tooth accompanied by a fair amount of pain, it sounds like you may have an abscess. This is not a dental emergency you should leave untreated. While you should schedule a visit to the dentist as soon as possible, what can you do in the meantime to alleviate suffering?
What Is an Abscess?
This is an infection that results in a buildup of pus underneath the surface of the skin. The pus is the body's attempt to kill off the infection, but the buildup causes pressure against the nerve, which causes your pain. Waiting around and doing nothing will likely result in the pain going away. However, this usually happens because the nerve in question dies off, rather than the infection disappearing. Unfortunately, the infection can then spread elsewhere and cause a whole variety of potential complications for the rest of your body. This is why you require investigation at the dentist's office as soon as possible.
Sometimes, the abscess can cause a number of unpleasant side-effects. You may run a low-grade fever, or there may even be some drainage from a sore in the immediate area. If you notice an unusual taste in your mouth this can be an indicator. Also, the tooth could be sensitive to either hot or cold and sometimes both temperature extremes.
What Causes the Abscess?
Usually it is caused by inadequate dental hygiene. Whenever you get a small cavity and fail to treat the problem, bacteria prevalent in the mouth can enter into the tooth. Whenever you have a crack in tooth enamel, there is also potential for infection and the development of an abscess.
What will the Dentist Do?
Your dental surgeon will be best placed to determine the next course of action, and this will depend on how advanced the problem is. You may be prescribed a dose of antibiotics to clear the infection. The dentist may also irrigate the area to relieve the pressure on the nerve. It's possible that you may need a root canal to remove the nerve from the particular tooth.
What Can You Do In The Meantime?
You can try swishing some warm saltwater gently in the affected area to help soothe the discomfort. Another solution you could try is to mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with tea tree oil and once again swish that in the affected area. Make sure that you spit it out though and don't swallow. Also, some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may help to take the edge off the problem, while you await the appointment at the dentist.