1. Why and Where Might an Incision & Drainage be Recommended?
When cavities or other oral infections are left untreated, they can spread to the jawbone and soft tissues of the mouth. If an infection has been allowed to develop, you may notice swelling in the mouth or face. We understand the seriousness of problems like tooth and gum infections. When a patient presents signs of significant infection, we perform a comprehensive exam to first reach an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, infection requires prompt and aggressive treatment to preserve both the tooth and oral and general health. Incision and drainage is one way we can achieve this. The incision and drainage procedure is performed using a local anesthetic to numb the area of the mouth being treated. After a small incision is made in the gums, a small drain may be inserted to siphon off the fluid that has accumulated in a pocket. After thorough drainage, the infection site is irrigated with sterile saline. Antibiotics may be applied into the pocket that has been drained or may be prescribed to take orally for several days.
2. How is an oral infection treated?
At United Dental Group, our experienced team of dentists and oral surgeons are knowledgeable and well-versed in many procedures to help rid your smile of any infections, swelling, and other oral issues. During a one-on-one consultation with one of our experts, we will determine the exact cause of your discomfort and recommend treatment options that best suit you. To treat infected soft tissues of the mouth, our doctors will clean the area thoroughly to eliminate all affected tissue and irrigate the area with a sterile solution. This procedure accompanied with other necessary treatments will alleviate any pain and clear away signs of infection.
3. How do you treat an abscess after draining?
Aftercare is an important aspect of incision and drainage treatment, and your dentist will instruct you on at home care steps you should follow. A few Important steps to take include:
Do not disturb the part of the mouth that has been treated. Do not touch with the tongue or the fingers.
Antibiotics must be taken as prescribed. Over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken to manage comfort. If pain is severe, the dentist may prescribe mild pain medication.
Soft foods should be consumed until swelling and pain improve.
Plenty of fluids should be consumed throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
Aside from walking, patients should avoid exercise and activities that increase heart rate.
Fever is a common symptom of infection. If the fever rises above 101 degrees Fahrenheit, the dentist should be contacted. If the fever rises when the office is closed, the patient should go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care.
How long does it take for incision and drainage to heal?
The wound created by the abscess can take 1 to 2 weeks to heal completely. This depends on the size of the abscess and how well the body responds to the incision and drainage procedure. During the two weeks after the procedure, we expect tissue from the margins of the wound to heal toward the center, sealing over the wound bit by bit.
4. Can an abscess kill you?
Yes. A tooth abscess is an infection that creates a pocket in soft tissue. This pocket fills with pus that contains bacteria. Two common types of abscesses occur. Typically, these sores result from untreated cavities or poor dental health in general. Periodontal abscesses form in the space between a tooth and the gums. The presence of bacteria in the gums can lead to serious periodontal disease if not addressed quickly enough. Periapical abscesses form at the tip of a tooth’s root. This sore cannot be seen because it happens inside the tooth. Untreated abscess at the root can spread bacteria and infection to surrounding bone. A dental abscess can form in a matter of a few days. This infection does not go away on its own. Without treatment, an abscess can continue for several months, possibly even years. Most abscesses cause intense tooth pain, indicating to a patient that prompt treatment is needed. Yet, some abscesses do not cause pain, but can be equally damaging to hard and soft tissues in the oral cavity. If not treated, an abscess can lead to additional problems. These include:
Fistula, or an opening through the bone and tissue that allows pus to drain. Fistula can leave an odd taste in the mouth.
Cysts can also develop from a dental abscess. Like the abscess itself, a cyst is a fluid-filled sac. From a dental abscess, a cyst may form in the jaw bone. Surgery may be needed to remove it.
Sepsis. This is the most severe and concerning consequence of a dental abscess. If the abscess drains without intervention from a dentist, infection can spread to the mouth and the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the infection becomes sepsis, a systemic infection that can affect the heart, the brain, and all other organs.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that may require hospitalization and aggressive treatment.
5. Is a tooth abscess considered an emergency?
Yes. The blood supply to the mouth and teeth is an offshoot of the primary circulatory system. Doctors often prescribe medication to be delivered under the tongue because, from this area of the mouth, the blood is quickly affected. We all have bacteria in our mouths. Some are good and some can be harmful. Some amount of bacteria does pass into the blood. However, this amount is so limited that the immune system can typically combat it. When infection is severe, such as an abscess, the immune system may be overwhelmed by the number of bacteria that are absorbed into the blood. This overwhelm can lead to problems in other areas of the body, including the brain and the heart. If signs of infection in the mouth occur, dental care should be arranged as soon as possible.
6. Can you go to the ER for a dental emergency?
Hospitals and urgent care centers do not always have dentists on site. As much as possible, it is recommended that patients try to control dental pain at home until they can be seen by their dentist. If a dental emergency occurs when your dental office is closed for the day and you cannot manage pain with over-the-counter medication or your dental problem is accompanied by a fever, nausea, or vomiting, then, yes, go to the nearest emergency room.