If you notice a swelling around the mouth, there may be several reasons for this. Some of these include:
- Blocked salivary glands
- Poor nutrition
- Gum disease and gingivitis
- Side-effects from medication
- Some oral cancers
Swelling in the mouth, however, is an indication that you may have a tooth abscess, particularly if the swelling is accompanied by severe pain and has occurred suddenly.
A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that arises as a result of bacterial infection. The abscess may occur in different parts of the tooth for different reasons. A periapical abscess might occur at the tip of the root, whereas a periodontal abscess occurs in the gums next to the tooth root.
Abscesses should be treated immediately. They are very painful and will not resolve by themselves. If left untreated infection may spread to your blood and other parts of the body causing potentially deadly sepsis.
How is an abscess treated?
Your dentist will prescribe certain antibiotics to lessen the risk of infection. This should lead to the pain and swelling subsiding within one or two days. The relief will be temporary however; merely taking medication alone will not resolve the abscess. The very core of the tooth is isolated and antibiotic treatment cannot reach it, because the treatment reaches infections by circulating through the bloodstream.
Treating an abscess involves removing the bacteria from the infected tooth. An infected tooth will need to be extracted completely or the infection inside it drained and the tooth sterilised, cleaned and filled to avoid further infection. The process of cleaning, draining, sterilising and filling the inside of an abscessed tooth is known as root canal treatment.
What should you do if you notice a swelling in your mouth?
You need to call your dentist immediately for an appointment. Make sure you tell him all your symptoms so that the staff understand your problem and get you to the right surgeon for help.
In the mean time, the discomfort can be lessened by rinsing with salt water or using over-the-counter medication. If the pain becomes severe, consult with your GP about other pain relief alternatives. He may prescribe antibiotics that will provide some relief within 48 hours of the first dose. You can also try holding a cold compress to the outside of cheek to lessen the swelling.
You should continue with brushing twice a day and flossing daily to eliminate any plaque and bacteria that may have given rise to the problem. Avoid using tobacco or drinking alcohol.
You may find it difficult to eat because of the pain and discomfort, but it is extremely important to stay hydrated so choose tepid liquids and soft foods until you can see your dentist. Click this link here to book an appointment with our emergency dentist online.