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Two ways to avoid serious complications if you develop a dental abscess

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A dental abscess is a type of infection which causes a sac of bacteria-filled fluid to form somewhere inside a person's mouth. If left to fester, this condition can eventually lead to serious complications, such as sepsis and bone infections. If you ever develop a dental abscess, here are two steps you can take to prevent it from causing any major complications.

Get the abscess treated by a dentist as soon as possible

If you have spotted an abscess in your mouth and have other symptoms which indicate that the condition is worsening (for example, if you developed a high temperature or if the pain is spreading to other areas of your face), you should find a clinic in your area that performs emergency dental work and accept their next available appointment. This is important because the dangerous bacteria in the abscess will not stay inside the abscess.

If you wait a couple of days to visit your usual dentist instead of undergoing emergency dental treatment immediately, the aforementioned bacteria will have plenty of time to multiply and spread to other parts of your head. During this time, these pathogens could infect your jawbone and cause a serious infection known as osteomyelitis. If this secondary infection is not treated with antibiotics quickly enough, it could lead to necrosis of your jawbone (this is where the bone, which is a living tissue, dies).

The bacteria from your dental abscess could also cause cavernous sinus thrombosis; this is a potentially fatal condition which can occur when bacteria enter a blood vessel in a person's sinuses and cause a blood clot to form in this area.

If you want to minimise your risk of experiencing either of these serious complications, it is vital to have a dentist treat your abscess sooner, rather than later.

Rinse with salt water whilst you are waiting to undergo treatment

If you have to wait a few hours until you can be treated at the emergency dental clinic, you should dissolve a few teaspoons of salt in some warm water. Periodically rinse out your mouth with this solution until it is time to go to the clinic.

The salt in this solution could prevent the abscess from getting worse in the run-up to your dental appointment and thus help to stop the infection from spreading and causing major health complications.

This is because salt can dehydrate bacterial cells, and in doing so, it can kill them off. Whilst rinsing with salted water is unlikely to cure your abscess, it could potentially stop the bacteria from multiplying and causing things like sepsis whilst you are waiting to undergo treatment.