With severe tooth and gum pain being one of the main symptoms of a dental abscess, most patients don't need much encouragement to take their issue seriously. However, since an abscess looks a little like a pimple and can be ignored with the help of painkillers and numbing agents, too many people try to see if they'll go away on their own or at least wait for a weekday appointment. A dental abscess, even a small and newly formed one, is a dental emergency that needs immediate attention.
Risks of Spreading Infection
While it's not healthy to have an infection anywhere in your body, the mouth is particularly full of blood vessels and is located close to both the brain and heart. These factors all combine to make a dental infection of any kind, such as an abscess, much more dangerous than other infections. It takes very little for the bacteria inside the abscess to spread into your heart, brain, and other organs thanks to the healthy blood supply required by your gums and the roots of your teeth. Hoping to heal on your own, or even putting off a dentist's visit by a day or two, can have fatal consequences.
That constant supply of blood that can spread infection rapidly to the most important parts of the body is exactly why you can't wait for a regular dentist's appointment. While you may have only realized you had a dental abscess a few hours ago, it doesn't follow any specific timeline for growing and spreading. The infection can spread within hours, or it can stay isolated in the mouth for months or even years. While you may be safe to wait on a sinus infection that you've had a few days without expectation of it suddenly becoming life-threatening overnight, the same is not true for dental infections. An infection can become life-threatening, even within the first few hours of the abscess in certain cases.
Many patients also underestimate how infected they are because abscesses tend to develop mostly under the surface of the gum. By the time you're experiencing tooth pain and seeing a pimple-like white head on your gum tissue, you likely have a relatively large pocket of pus and bacteria inside the gums and around the tooth. There's no way for you to determine how serious or limited an abscess is without seeing a dentist or at the very least an emergency room doctor.
Contact local emergency dental services for more information and assistance.