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What is an abscessed tooth?

A tooth abscess, or a dental abscess, is caused by bacteria that infects the roots of your teeth. This type of infection can spread to other parts in and around your body if left untreated for too long. A dentist should examine how far the infected root extends so they may provide medical advice on what treatment will be most beneficial based on where it has reached already.

Bacterial infection

Few bacterial species cause gum and tooth infections because only a few can produce the acid that leads to demineralization, which causes cavities. The mouth contains many types of bacteria but only some are harmful–those with destructive abilities due to their production of acids. They feed off food debris in your teeth as well as on dental tools used during procedures like fillings or orthodontics work. When these acidic compounds accumulate at high levels it results in decay by way of destruction: enamel is eroded while dentin beneath becomes exposed allowing more infection-causing germs into contact with sensitive nerve roots there, and cementum also erodes over time leading to less stability for healthy gums plus an increased risk for bone loss from lack of support.

Bacteria stay on both the surface and gingival epithelium. Bacteria on the gingival epithelium end up causing a gingival abscess. Porphyromonas gingivalis is a Gram-negative oral anaerobe and is known to cause adult periodontal abscesses.

Gum and Tooth Infections

Tooth decay results from bacteria that demineralizes and destroys hard tissues, i.e., enamel, dentin, and cementum. The infection affects natural teeth, destroying gum tissue, soft tissue, connective tissue, alveolar bone, cavernous sinus thrombosis, blood vessels, and other surrounding tissues.

If tooth decay is left untreated, it can lead to pain, tooth loss, and infection. Tooth decay is among the most common diseases in the world.

Causes of an abscessed tooth

A tooth abscess is caused by a deep cavity or tooth decay, gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, or abscess ruptures. If an infection is not treated, it can kill the pulp and lead to a dental abscess. There are two common types of dental abscess:

A periapical abscess and a periodontal abscess. Periapical abscess forms at the tip of the root of the tooth. A periodontal abscess, however, affects the bones next to your teeth.  Periapical abscesses and periodontal abscesses can be found in upper or lower jaw regions. You can get more than one abscess. 

One abscess can also travel through the jaw bone and show up in several spots. However, the abscess will still be related to only one tooth.

Tooth decay is fueled by poor dental hygiene or too much sugary diet. Sugary foods and drinks help bacteria grow, leading to cavities and other dental abscess complications.

Symptoms of an abscessed tooth

A tooth abscess can be noticed by observing different things. There could be a sharp, throbbing toothache, throbbing pain, or severe pain in the area around the abscessed tooth, but not always. This is common when you apply pressure on it. You may notice swelling, fever, swollen lymph nodes, gum redness, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, or trouble breathing or swallowing puffy gums, and a bad odor when you chew with it. If you press the affected tooth and liquid oozes out, be sure you have an abscessed tooth since the liquid is pus.

Diagnosis for an abscessed tooth

Diagnosis of an abscessed tooth occurs based on the nature of the tooth abscess. Besides examining your teeth and the surrounding area, your dentist may perform other procedures. These include tapping your teeth. An abscessed tooth is sensitive to touch and pressure. The dental professional may also recommend an X-Ray on the aching teeth to help identify the abscess. The X-Ray will also reveal whether the dental infection has spread to other parts, causing tooth infection to other teeth. The dentist can finally recommend a CT scan. If the infection has spread to other areas within the neck, only a CT scan may reveal whether it is a serious infection or just a small tooth infection. At times, tooth infection spreads very fast and emergency treatment should be sought as soon as possible.

If the condition is left untreated, total dental damage could be done to the abscessed tooth and any surrounding tissue. Untreated abscesses can damage your dental health. And may lead to chronic tooth pain.

Treatment of an abscessed tooth

Treatment of an abscessed tooth focuses on clearing up the infection and pain relief. See your dentist prescribe the best treatment for your case, depending on your signs and symptoms. The dentist should fully have the abscessed tooth diagnosed to determine the extent of the tooth infection and to prescribe the best medication that will have the abscessed tooth treated.

Treatment options for an abscessed tooth include draining the abscess. A small cut is made in the abscess to drain the pus and the hollow is cleaned with saline solution. A root canal procedure is the second approach. The root canal treatment involves drilling into the affected tooth’s root to remove the abscess and any infected pulp. The pulp chamber, which holds pulp, and the canal is filled to summarize the root canal procedure.

Tooth extraction is another procedure. Tooth extraction is common when the teeth are too damaged. Draining of the pulp may happen after a tooth extraction is complete.

Oral antibiotics can also be used for treatment. If the infection spreads beyond the abscessed area or you have a weakened immune system, oral antibiotics and antibiotic therapy are the best options for you. Maintaining dental hygiene as you see your dentist for regular dental checkups will help you keep the best dental care for your teeth.

Chronic gum disease can trigger abscess ruptures on the abscessed tooth and consequently lead to craniofacial surgery if abscess occurs and dental treatment is delayed.

Delaying treatment robs you of the possibility of having a restored tooth.

Signs and symptoms that indicate you need to see a dentist ASAP

Always be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of dental abscesses so you can notice when an abscess occurs at the early stages. If you experience mouth fever and mouth pain, severe, persistent, throbbing pain, fever, awkward taste in the mouth, sensitivity to hot or cold temperature, swelling in your face or cheek, tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck, bleeding after brushing or flossing, then you need to see your dentist as soon as possible to assess the tooth infection before it is too late.

Prevention tips to avoid getting another abscess in the future

To prevent dental abscesses, develop an oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth regularly to prevent tooth infection. Otherwise, dental abscesses will cost you a dime.

See your dentist every six months to examine you and provide medical advice that will help you keep dental abscesses away.

Avoid sweets as this will lead you to have a tooth abscess. Sweets stimulate the growth of bacteria which fuel the chances of having a tooth abscess.

Use Fluoridated Drinking Water to strengthen your enamel. American dental association has proved this to be a workable solution against dental abscesses.

Replace your toothbrush regularly to reduce the retention of bacteria. This will save you from the possibility of getting dental abscesses.

Chalet Dental Care has got your Back

Teeth should not be a source of pain but unfortunately, we at times find ourselves facing this uncomfortable challenge. Luckily for you, at Chalet Dental Care, we will show you just how to take care of them, and in the case of abscesses, we will help treat and ensure the problem remains in the past. Contact our experts today for services.