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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Gum abscess

12/12/2008

Question:

my partner had toothache a week last friday and went to his dentist on the following monday as the out of hours would not see him, since going to the dentist they discovered that this was an abcess(after starting a root canal on one of his teeth)the abcess then burst and he was given antibiotics. since then all under his lower jaw swelled during that night and he was finding it hard to open his mouth and swallow through the pain, he attended the maxofacial only today and was told he had another abcess by his wisdom tooth which is still under his gum, they could not find the exact spot of the abcess although xrays were done and could not get to it. he was sent home still in alot of pain with more antibiotics and painkillers but he still cannot open his mouth enough to eat food, he is only eating soup at the moment. my question is what will the trauma team do to him when he goes back this week, to rectify this.

Answer:

It is possible that the antibiotics given were only able to kill part of the microbes causing the infection. Each antibiotic has a specific group or type of microbes that it is effective against. In long standing infections, many types become involved, and it is often necessary to use more than one antibiotic. If he is taking amoxicillin or penicillin now, the doctors may add metronidazole, which is more effective against certain anaerobic bacteria.

It may be necessary to drain the abscess. It may take 10 days to two weeks for the swelling and some of the pain to go away.

It sounds as if your partner has several dental problems. It would be most beneficial to visit the dentist and get a comprehensive dental exam to find the other dental problems and treat them to prevent another occurrence such as the one he is experiencing right now.

Finally, it is possible that he could have other systemic diseases that could effect his body's ability to fight infections. It would be good to have a medical check up also if this has not been done in the last two years.

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Response by:

D Stanley Sharples, DDS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University