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Woman in pain with a dental abscess

A dental abscess can be painful and, if left untreated, can lead to serious oral and overall health complications. It’s important to understand what causes it, the symptoms associated with the condition, and how it’s treated. Identifying an abscess early ensures you’ll receive timely treatment and better health outcomes.

What is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in different parts of the tooth due to a bacterial infection. They can be broadly categorized into two types:

  • Periapical abscess: Occurs at the tip of the tooth’s root
  • Periodontal abscess: Occurs in the gums next to a tooth root, often spreading to the surrounding tissues

Causes of Dental Abscess

While recognizing the symptoms of a dental abscess is crucial, it’s equally important to understand the underlying causes that lead to this painful condition. Some common causes include:

  • Tooth decay: Bacteria in the mouth break down sugar into acids that can erode tooth enamel. Over time, this can create cavities, providing bacteria with easy access to the deeper structures of the tooth, leading to infection.
  • Gum disease: If gum disease (periodontitis) is left untreated, pockets can form between the tooth and gum, allowing bacteria to accumulate and leading to an abscess.
  • Physical trauma: A chipped or broken tooth can expose the inner tooth to bacteria, potentially causing an abscess
  • Failed dental work: Sometimes, previous dental work, like a crown or a filling, can fail, allowing bacteria to enter the tooth

Symptoms of a Dental Abscess

If you suspect a dental abscess, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Severe and persistent throbbing pain that might radiate to the ear, jawbone, or neck
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures and when biting or chewing
  • Swelling in the face or cheek
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck
  • Fever or a general feeling of being unwell
  • Foul taste in the mouth or bad breath

Treatment of Dental Abscess

A dental abscess can become a systemic infection affecting your brain, heart, and lungs. So, it’s crucial to visit a dentist immediately if you believe that you have a dental abscess. Treatment often involves:

  • Draining the abscess: The dentist makes a small incision to let the pus out. Sometimes, a small rubber drain opens the area and allows continued drainage. This drain is typically removed after a few days.
  • Root canal treatment: A root canal may be necessary if the abscess is inside a tooth (periapical abscess). This involves removing the abscessed area and the infected pulp inside the tooth, then filling and sealing the tooth. Sometimes, a crown might be placed over the tooth to restore its shape and function.
  • Tooth extraction: In severe cases where the tooth can’t be saved, it may need to be removed.
  • Antibiotics: If the infection has spread to other areas or if you have a weakened immune system, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection.

Prioritize Your Dental Health

Understanding the causes and symptoms of a dental abscess can help in early detection and treatment, reducing the risk of complications. Regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene are your best defense against this painful condition.

If you suspect an abscess, don’t delay seeking dental care. Contact us to book an appointment at Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center today!

Be proud of your smile.