Dealing With Dental Abscesses: Symptoms, Risks, And Treatments

A pus accumulation inside the teeth or gums is called a dental abscess, often known as a tooth abscess. A bacterial infection, frequently one that has built up in the tooth’s soft pulp, is the usual cause of a dental abscess.

Food particles, saliva, and oral bacteria combine to form plaque, a substance that adheres to teeth and irritates the gums. If the plaque is not eliminated with consistent, appropriate brushing and flossing, the germs may infiltrate the gums and soft tissues of the teeth. An abscess may eventually develop from this. 

What Is An Abscessed Tooth?

A tooth abscess is a pus-filled pocket that happens around the tooth root. This will happen due to an infection and it may happen to everyone including children and older people. The condition will not improve on its own so treating it with the help of an endodontist will be necessary. These are the specialists that deal with these kinds of issues and will help save your teeth from falling. In these cases, earlier detection of the infection and treatment will be crucial because if you don’t treat it it can spread to other areas of the body. 

Abscessed Tooth Types

Based on the location where the infection occurs, the abscessed teeth will be divided into two types:

Periapical Abscess

When germs go into the pulp of your tooth’s root, the periapical abscess will develop. The infection can spread to the tooth’s tip and surrounding tissues in addition to the pus-filled pocket surrounding the root of the tooth. 

Periodontal Abscess

Periodontal abscess starts in your gums and often it will resemble a pimple in the area of your gums. 

Symptoms

Some of the most common signs of tooth abscess include:

  • Toothache that is severe and constant will be felt in your jawbone neck and even ear.
  • You will most likely experience a fever.
  • Your teeth will be sensitive and most likely you will feel discomfort with hot and cold temperatures.
  • Chewing and biting will cause pain and discomfort in the mouth.
  • You will most likely experience swelling in your face area most likely on the cheek or neck. 
  • sore, enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or under your jaw
  • Bad taste in your tongue
  • If the abscess bursts, you may experience a sudden surge of salty, foul-tasting, and foul-smelling fluid in your mouth along with pain alleviation. 

Causes

A tooth abscess can be caused by every hole or open area that can happen in your mouth. The most common causes of these issues include:

  • Severe cavities: A cavity, also known as tooth decay, occurs when the hard surface of your tooth is destroyed. This happens when food and drink sugars are broken down by bacteria, producing acid that damages enamel.
  • Teeth that are cracked, chipped, or broken: Bacteria can enter a tooth through any opening and go all the way to the pulp.
  • Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection and inflammation of the tissues that surround teeth. The germs are able to penetrate deeper tissues when gum disease worsens.
  • Damage to the tooth: Even in cases when there isn’t a visible break, trauma to a tooth can nevertheless harm the inner pulp. Because of the damage, infection is possible. 

Risk Factors

An abscess in your tooth might be caused by the following factors:

  • Poor dental hygiene and maintenance. Your risk of dental issues might rise if you don’t take good care of your teeth and gums, which includes not flossing and brushing twice a day. Tooth decay, gum disease, tooth abscess, and other oral and dental issues are possible problems.
  • A sugar-rich diet. Frequent consumption of sugar-rich foods and beverages, such as sodas and candies, can cause dental cavities and develop into tooth abscesses.
  • Dry mouth. Tooth decay risk might be risked by dry mouth. Dry mouth is frequently brought on by aging-related problems or the adverse effects of some drugs.

Complications

Tooth abscesses won’t be treated with time and they require immediate attention from dental professionals. Even though the pain can be minimized through different ways, don’t be fooled the problems need to be treated from the root and this cannot be done at home. 

The infection may spread to your jaw and other parts of your head and neck if the abscess doesn’t drain. A hole between the tooth abscess and the maxillary sinus, which are two huge areas behind your cheekbones and beneath your eyes, may also occur if the tooth is close to the sinus. Infections in the sinuses may result from this. Sepsis, a potentially fatal infection that spreads throughout your body, is another possibility. If you have a weakened immune system the risk of the infection spreading will be higher. 

Diagnosis And Tests

How Is An Abscessed Tooth Diagnosed?

Other than examining your tooth thoroughly and checking the surrounding tissue for any visible sign of infection, your dentist might also:

  • Press and tap your teeth: An abscessed tooth is frequently sensitive to the touch or applied pressure.
  • Suggest a dental X-ray: This can help uncover potential sources of dental illness that may have resulted in the abscessed tooth. X-rays are another tool your dentist can use to see whether the infection has spread and might be harming other places.
  • Suggest a CT scan: This will assist in determining the degree of the illness if it has migrated to other parts of your neck.
  • Conduct heat tests: Your dentist will use the results of these tests to assess the condition of your tooth pulp. 

Management And Treatment

The main goal of the treatment is to eliminate the infection and prevent further complications to other parts of the body. The treatment will most likely consist of:

  • Incision and drainage: To release the pus from the abscess, your dentist makes a tiny incision (cut). Also, they could install a little rubber drain. This helps to keep the area that is infected open, allowing the remaining infection to drain out. 
  • A root canal might help you save your tooth and get rid of the infection. In order to stop further infection, this routine surgery removes the infected pulp from your tooth and replaces the empty area with a substance. The pulp is necessary for the tooth to grow, but once it reaches maturity, it may function without it. Your tooth should return to normal after the surgery, however, a dental crown could be necessary to keep the root canal safe. The repaired tooth may last a lifetime with proper maintenance. 
  • Tooth extraction: sometimes when the tooth has been impacted it may sustain irreversible damage and it cannot be saved.  In some situations, your dentist might have to remove or take your tooth.
  • Antibiotics: To help with your treatment, your dentist may advise the use of antibiotics. It’s crucial to understand that although this treatment could aid in eliminating any left germs, it is unable to treat the infection’s root cause—the damaged tooth. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Soon After Tooth Abscess Treatment Will I Feel Better?

After the treatment is done the tooth abscess will most likely be cleared up. Some side effects will occur like temporary sensitivity but after some time everything will go back to normal. Healing time is unique to everyone because every case is different. To have more information about the recovery process ask your dentist about everything. 

Can A Tooth Abscess Go Away By Itself?

Unfortunately, the tooth abscess won’t be treated on its own. Even though sometimes it may feel like the pain will stop on its own without treatment this is because the nerve is not functional anymore so you don’t feel anything. However, treatment will still be required because the bacteria will continue to spread and destroy the surrounding tissue. If you start to notice any strange symptoms in your mouth, contact your dentist and set an appointment as soon as possible. 

How Long Can A Dental Abscess Go Untreated?

Your dental and general health may suffer greatly if a tooth abscess is left untreated since it will eventually spread to the surrounding tissues and beyond. The infection may take weeks or months to spread, and it is hard to predict when it will do so. You must see a dentist as soon as possible since tooth abscesses do not heal on their own. 

How Can I Reduce My Risk For Tooth Abscesses?

By seeing your dentist on a regular basis and receiving cleanings and checkups, you can lower your chance of acquiring a tooth abscess. Seeing your dentist is also necessary if a tooth gets damaged or loose. Dental health depends on practicing good oral hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day when you’re at home. 

How Can I Relieve The Pain Of A Tooth Abscess?

A toothache is an indication that you need to visit the dentist. Warm salt water rinses and over-the-counter painkillers (such as acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen) might help reduce discomfort while you wait for your appointment. It’s crucial to understand that there is no long-term solution for a tooth abscess using homemade remedies. 

How Do I Know If My Tooth Is Abscessed?

Your primary indicator is pain. It might hurt like a sharp ache or throb. It’s possible that your teeth are temperature-sensitive. An abscess may also be present if your gums are inflamed around the hurting tooth. 

What Gets Rid Of A Tooth Abscess?

After draining the abscess, a dentist will need to determine if your tooth may still be saved or not. Antibiotics will merely aid your body’s defense against the illness. It will not eliminate the abscessed tooth, which is the cause. 

Is A Tooth Abscess An Emergency?

Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible if you believe you have an abscessed tooth. A fever or swelling in your jaw, neck, or face might indicate the abscess is expanding, which could be a dangerous consequence. Visit an emergency room if you can’t get in touch with your dentist straight immediately. 

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