Abscesses are the unfortunate result of a tooth infection that has reached critical mass. They appear as red, swollen bumps on the gums accompanied by severe tooth pain that radiates to other parts of the face. Abscesses are a dental emergency and need to be treated the same day they appear.
However, the best case scenario is avoiding a trip to the emergency dentist and treating a cavity before it has a chance to develop into an infection. So, how long does it actually take to progress to that stage?
The Earliest Stage of Infection: Dental Caries
Pretty much everyone would confess to putting off a dentist appointment when they know they have a cavity. After all, it’s not causing that much pain, so why spend the money now? The biggest reason is that nothing can stop a cavity from progressing, not even careful and diligent oral hygiene.
Once a cavity has formed, bacteria have infiltrated the several layers of protection on your teeth and are doing work on the dentin to reach the pulp. This is an active infection. Only clearing the infection with a drill and sealing the hole with a filling will get rid of the infection.
The Second Stage of Infection: Pulp Damage
After the bacteria have tunneled through the dentin and reached the inner cavity of the tooth, you’ll likely feel a lot more pain. The pulp of the tooth is full of nerve endings that can really start to hurt with infection. Plus, the decay will slowly spread through the tissue until there’s nothing to be done but a pulpotomy.
Pulpotomies remove some of the pulp of the tooth. Filling the tooth after this requires a bit more material and a greater cost. Depending on the damage, you may even need a dental crown.
The Third Stage of Infection: Root Damage
You’ve heard of root canals. You may even shiver at the thought. As your dentists, we want to assure you that root canals are relatively painless. However, as we don’t want you to have to get a root canal, perhaps we can avoid getting to that stage altogether.
When infection has reached the roots, the pain is likely to be quite intense. You may experience extreme sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. You may have issues putting pressure on that side of your mouth at all. This kind of pain is also a dental emergency. Don’t wait to get help if you’re experiencing this level of discomfort.
The Final Stage: Dental Abscesses
As the roots begin to die from progressive infection, dental abscesses form. A dental abscess is a sign that should not be ignored, as infection of this intensity has the ability to spread to other parts of the body. Once the infection spreads, you may develop a potentially life-threatening condition called sepsis. Do not wait until cavities get to this stage.
Emergency dentistry is available to rapidly treat infected teeth. If you notice the signs and symptoms of badly decayed teeth, don’t wait to get same-day care. However, you should definitely get on the schedule for an exam if you suspect you’re in the early stages of tooth decay.
See Enhance Dental in North Carolina for Emergency Dentistry
For some people, cavities can take months or years to form an abscess. However, it doesn’t always take that long. Don’t wait to see our dentist for treatment. We can get you out of pain, treat the infection, and prevent future dental and oral health problems with top-quality care and service. To schedule your appointment, call 984-207-3266 or book online.
For same-day appointments, call to get on the emergency schedule or walk in to our office in Wake Forest.