Brookfield Family Dentistry: Thomas Tang, DDS

Dental Abscess vs. Canker Sore

By Dr.Thomas Tang on November 19, 2019

A sore on the gumlineWhen a growth develops inside of your mouth, it can be alarming. Its easy to panic and inaccurately self-diagnose a little lesion as an abscess when it’s really just a canker sore. Yet few people know the difference between these two kinds of growths. That’s why Dr. Thomas Tang is here. As an experienced Brookfield, WI cosmetic and restorative dentist, he understands that patient education is just as crucial as routine cleanings and checkups.

With all that in mind, let’s now compare dental abscesses and canker sores. We’ll start with the much more serious problem first.

What Is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that develops as a result of a bacterial infection in the mouth. This is typically related to an intreated cavity, a dental injury, or issues with previous dental work.

Dental abscesses can form in different parts of the mouth. A periapical abscess develops at the tip of a tooth root, while a periodontal abscess develops along the gum or at the side of a tooth root. If a dental abscess is not treated and ruptures, it can be potentially life-threatening.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Dental Abscesses

The most common signs and symptoms of dental abscesses include:

  • Severe, throbbing pain or toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity when biting or chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity with hot/cold temperature food items
  • Swelling of the face or cheek
  • Swelling around the jaw or in the neck
  • Fever
  • Breathing problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sudden bad breath or bad taste in the mouth (often associated with a ruptured abscess)

Treatments for Dental Abscesses

When treating a dental abscess, dentists will need to drain the pus/fluid from the growth and then take additional measures to control the infection. The team at our Brookfield dental center may also perform a root canal in order to prevent the need for tooth extraction.

If a root canal is not viable, you may need to have the affected tooth removed. In such cases, we can discuss options for tooth replacement with you in full detail.

What Is a Canker Sore?

Canker sores are discolored lesions that can develop on the soft tissues of your mouth, such as the inner cheek, inner lip, or gumline. Canker sores differ from cold sores in that they do not develop on the surface of the lips or mouth area. Canker sores are not contagious either.

While the exact cause of canker sores is unknown, they are often associated with the following:

  • Stress
  • Eating certain foods
  • Irritation from braces or dentures
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Hormonal changes

Common Signs and Symptoms of Canker Sores

The most common signs and symptoms of canker sores include:

  • White or red ovals on soft tissue inside mouth
  • Tingling or burning sensations before canker sore forms
  • Soreness and discomfort around the sore

Treatments for Canker Sores

Minor canker sores typically clear away on their own and require no professional attention. Patients should simply brush, floss, and keep their mouth clean until the canker sore goes away.

Persistent, large, or painful canker sores may require professional care. Medicated rinses, topical drugs, and oral medications may be given. You dentist will also ask you to note various triggers for canker sores and suggest lifestyle changes that can keep them under control.

Learn More About Your Dental Health Needs

If you live in Brookfield and have developed dental pain and discomfort, we encourage you to contact a skilled cosmetic and restorative dentist. We can diagnose and treat various dental wellness problems. You can reach us by phone at (262) 207-4867.

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Brookfield Office

17185 W North Ave
Brookfield, WI 53005

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