Most tooth aches are uncomfortable, but an abscessed tooth is a potentially dangerous situation that needs to be addressed immediately. A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus located at the tip of a tooth's root in the gums. This pus is the result of a bacterial infection, and if it is left untreated it is possible for the infection to travel to other parts of the body and cause serious illness, or in rare cases, death. Tooth abscesses are typically treated by draining the abscess, performing a root canal, and taking a course of antibiotics to fight off the infection. If you have any of the following symptoms of an abscessed tooth, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible:
Severe, Continual Tooth Ache
When you have an abscessed tooth, the pain does not come and go. You will experience a continual, throbbing tooth ache that may be extremely painful. Don't try to cover up the pain by using over the counter pain killers - you should visit the dentist any time that you have a severe tooth ache, but prompt care is especially important in the case of an abscessed tooth.
Inability to Chew Normally
The pain from an abscessed tooth may increase when you bite down while eating or apply pressure to the infected tooth. You may also experience extreme sensitivity when consuming hot or cold food or beverages.
Depending on the severity of your tooth abscess, you may notice that the area around your jaw or cheek may become swollen and tender. This is a natural response by your body when trying to fight off an infection in your gums or the root of your tooth.
Just like it would with any other type of bacterial infection, your body will likely respond to an abscessed tooth with a fever. Raising your body temperature is one way that your body tries to kill off bacteria that is causing an infection. A tooth ache accompanied by a fever is a sure sign that you require immediate dental attention.
Foul Tasting and Smelling Liquid in Your Mouth
In some cases, an abscess in your tooth may rupture on its own, and you will be able to smell and taste the foul pus that comes out of it. When an abscess ruptures, pain usually decreases, but do not ignore the situation because you are no longer in extreme pain -- you will still need dental work to repair the problem with your tooth and prevent another infection from forming.