The medical name for an abscessed tooth is a dentoalveolar abscess, but sufferers spell it p-a-i-n. An abscessed tooth is an infection that leads to swelling and a buildup of pus -- which, in turn, stimulates the nerve in that tooth. It's enough to make you howl out in agony or, at the very least, feel very uncomfortable. Here's the irony: If you wait long enough, the pain will go away, but it doesn't mean the problem is gone. It simply means the nerve has died. You may be rid of some short-term unpleasantness, but the infection is progressing and can further threaten your health. The infection can even spread to other places in the body like the jawbone or neck [source: Drugs.com]. An abscessed tooth requires treatment, not only to rid of you of the pain but also to protect your greater health.
Several things can lead to an infection, but the biggest issue is poor dental hygiene. If you get a cavity and leave it untreated, bacteria can enter through the opening in the tooth. Some diseases or treatments for diseases -- chemotherapy is one -- can also create an abscess. A tooth that's been cracked or broken in an accident can also become infected [source: Balentine]. Essentially anything that leads to a crack in the enamel of a tooth has the potential to create an infection.
Regardless of where it came from, an abscess is something you want to eliminate rather than cope with. You can distinguish an infection from a minor tooth ache by answering a few important questions:
- Are your gums swollen and sore?
- Is there a funny taste in your mouth?
- Is there drainage from a sore?
- Are you running a fever?
- Does it hurt to chew?
- Is your tooth sensitive to hot or cold?
If you have a combination of any of those symptoms, you need to get treatment [source: WebMD]. Treatment may come in the form of a home remedy or it may require medical attention. The degree of the infection's progression can also determine what course of action to take.
We'll take a look at some remedies on the next page.
Abscessed Tooth Remedies
When you have an abscessed tooth, the first thing you want is relief from the pain. Over the counter drugs like naproxen or ibuprofen can be helpful. Remember, however, that even though the aching has subsided, the infection still exists [source: Balentine]. If the sore within or surrounding the tooth bursts, you can rinse your mouth with salt water as a short-term remedy. A visit to a dentist is your next step.
Your dentist may choose to suction some of the infected fluids from the sore for analysis. Understanding the type of infection you have can help him or her determine which medicines are best. You'll likely be prescribed an antibiotic that can kill off the germs that created the abscess. The dentist may also choose to make a small cut in the infected area to allow for drainage [source: Drugs.com]. If the infection has spread into the bottom of your mouth or into the neck region, the sore may need to be drained via surgery while you're under anesthesia [source: Balentine].
Your doctor will want to remove the cause of the abscess so it doesn't reoccur. This could mean undergoing a procedure such as a root canal. The key is to insure that the crack in the enamel and the infected area is removed. Your dentist may decide the best way to accomplish this is simply by pulling the tooth.
An abscess shouldn't be ignored. In extreme cases, the infection can spread throughout the body, block the airway and even prove to be life threatening [source: Drugs.com].
Homeopathic Remedies for an Abscessed Tooth
You've undoubtedly heard it said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Such is the case with an abscessed tooth. But if you really want to know the single best homeopathic remedy for an abscessed tooth -- well, that answer comes in the form of several daily practices. These simple, preventative steps are recommended by Home Remedy Central:
- Daily flossing
- Twice a day (or more) brushing
- Healthy eating and avoidance of excess sweets
If an abscessed tooth can't be prevented, there are other home remedies that can be considered. Understand, however, that these homeopathic remedies will only help in the short term. They will treat some of your symptoms, but they won't solve the underlying problem -- you have an infection. For that reason, you'll want to consult with your doctor or dentist even if you've used a home remedy that has provided noticeable relief [source: Home Remedy Central].
Warm salt water and an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine will also sooth the discomfort and cleanse the infection until you can see a health professional. Other home remedies include hepar sulph or calcium sulphide, which work to remove the fluids in the infection [source: Home Remedy Central].
It's easy to argue "it's just a toothache; I don't really need to worry about this," but an abscessed tooth will not heal itself. Address the symptoms with pain relievers (homeopathic or otherwise), then see your doctor as soon as possible.
Need some more information? Peruse the links and resources on the next page.
- Balentine, Jerry. "Dental Abscess." Emedicine Health. (Oct. 28, 2011) http://www.emedicinehealth.com/dental_abscess/article_em.htm
- Drugs.com. "Dental Abscess Care Guide." (Oct. 28, 2011) http://www.drugs.com/cg/dental-abscess.html
- Home Remedy Central. "Abscessed Tooth." (Oct. 28, 2011) http://www.homeremedycentral.com/en/home-remedies/natural-cure/abscessed-tooth.html
- WebMD. "Dental Health and the Abscessed Tooth." (Oct. 28, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/abscessed-tooth