Tooth abscess, also known as dental abscess, is basically the swelling that occurs at the different region of the tooth. It is a pocket of pus that can form at any part of a tooth. It is usually caused by bacterial infection. Patient with an abscess tooth may experience from moderate to severe pain that can either spread to your neck or ear area.
Abscess tooth is usually caused by a dental injury, an untreated dental cavity, or a prior dental work. If left untreated, an abscess tooth may generate into a severe, life-threatening dental condition. To learn more about the symptoms of abscess tooth as well as the different dental abscess treatments available, read on.
What Are The Different Types of Abscess Tooth?
Although there are different types of tooth abscesses based on the area affected, there are majorly 3 common types, which are:
- Periapical abscess – This type of abscess occurs at the tip of a dental root. It occurs when there is a bacterial invasion at the dental pulp – the part of the tooth that contains the connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. Bacteria enter the dental pulp through a crack, chip, or dental cavity and radiates down to the root.
- Periodontal abscess – This type of abscess occurs on the gum close to the tooth root. Sometime, a periodontal abscess may spread to the surrounding gingival tissue and jawbone.
- Gingival abscess. This is an abscess on the gums.
Dental abscess treatments involve draining the abscess and getting rid of the infection. Your dentist may be able to use root canal treatment to treat tooth abscess, but in some dental cases, your dentist may have to pull out the affected tooth.
Symptoms Of An Abscess Tooth Include:
- Throbbing, persistent, or a severe toothache that may spread to your ear, neck, or jawbone.
- Oversensitivity to cold and hot temperatures.
- Oversensitivity to the pressure of biting and chewing.
- Serious fever.
- Swelling in your check or face.
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes under your neck or your jaw.
- A sudden rush of foul-tasting and foul-smelling, taste of salty fluid in your mouth when the abscess ruptures.
- Facial redness and swelling
- Swollen, red gums
- Loose or discolored loose teeth
- Foul taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
When to See a Dentist?
If you notice any of the symptoms of tooth abscess above, quickly see your dentist. If you also experience swallowing or breathing trouble, you should also visit your dentist. The above symptoms may indicate that the tooth abscess has radiated deeper into the surrounding gingival tissue, jawbone, or even into other body areas.
Risk factors of Tooth Abscess
The following factors may increase your risk of having an abscessed tooth:
- Poor oral hygiene practices: if you do not observe good oral practices or take proper care of your teeth and gingiva i.e. not brushing or flossing at least twice daily, you are increasing your risk of abscess tooth, gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental complications.
- Consuming diets high in sugar: Frequent eating and drinking of diets high in sugar can also increase your risk of having dental cavities, which may turn into an abscess tooth.
If you have a weak body immune system and you have an untreated tooth abscess, you stand a greater risk of having the infection spread at an increasing rate all over your body.
Complications of Abscess Tooth
Abscessed tooth won’t go away except with dental abscess treatments. Even if the abscess bursts and the pain reduce significantly, dental abscess treatments are still needed.
However, if the tooth abscess doesn’t rupture, the bacterial infection may radiate to your gum, jaw, neck, and head. A tooth abscess may even degenerate into sepsis — a severe, life-threatening bacterial infection that spreads all over your body.
How to Treat Abscess Tooth?
Dental abscess treatments focus on clearing up the bacterial infection and relieving you of pain. Depending on the tooth abscess symptom you develop, your dentist may have to start the treatment with a dental X-ray. This will enable your dentist to know whether the bacterial infection has radiated to other areas or not.
Depending on the severity and type of your tooth abscess, dental abscess treatments include:
- Breaking and draining the tooth abscess – your dentist would cut into the tooth abscess to break it and then drain the pus. Your dentist would then clean the affected area with a saline solution.
- Undergoing a root canal procedure – you may have to undergo a root canal treatment, which involves drilling into the abscessed tooth to drain the abscess and eliminate any infected dental pulp. After which your dentist would fill and seal up the pulp chamber. If necessary, your dentist may have to place a dental crown on the affected tooth to strengthen it. However, the dental crown treatment is given during a separate dental appointment.
- Tooth extraction – should in case the abscessed tooth is severely damaged, your dentist may have to remove the tooth and then drain the abscess.
- Using antibiotics – If you have a weak body immune system or the bacterial infection has radiated beyond the affected tooth, your dentist may prescribe to you an oral antibiotic to help get rid of the infection.
- Removing of a foreign object – sometimes, foreign object in your gum may be responsible for your tooth abscess. In such a case, your dentist would have to remove the foreign object, and then clean up the affected area with a saline solution.
In case it’s not possible for you to consult your dentist immediately, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen may help reduce the pain. Rinsing your mouth regularly with warm, salty water may also help fight the infection.
How to Prevent Abscess Tooth?
Preventing tooth abscess is better than undergoing dental abscess treatments. The best way to prevent tooth abscess is to avoid tooth decay and tooth decay can be avoided by taking good and proper dental care. Other ways to prevent tooth abscess include:
- Taking fluoridated drinking water.
- Brushing your teeth thrice daily using fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing at least twice daily or using an interdental cleaner to clean your teeth daily.
- Replacing your toothbrush at most every four months, or whenever your toothbrush’s bristles are frayed.
- Eating healthy diets. Avoid between-meal snacks and high sugary diets.
- Scheduling a regular visit to your dentist for professional cleanings and checkups.
- Using a fluoride or antiseptic mouth rinse to add additional protection to your teeth against dental decay.
To learn more about abscess tooth and dental abscess treatment, visit our abscess tooth page