Tooth Abscess Treatment

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus due to bacterial infection. It is a dental abscess, which occurs at the tip of the tooth root. An abscessed tooth results severe toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear. Other problems for this reason are tooth sensitivity, fever, swollen gums that needs immediate treatment. Anyone, from children to the elderly, can get one.

Abscess tooth usually occurs as a result of an untreated dental cavity, an injury or prior dental work. Dentists treat a tooth abscess by draining the pus and getting rid of the infection. They may be able to save your tooth with a root canal treatment, but in some cases the tooth may need to be pulled. So early treatment is always good.

What are the different types?

The three most common types of dental abscesses are:

  • Periapical abscess. This is an abscess at the tip of a tooth’s root.
  • Periodontal abscess. This is an abscess on the gum next to the root of a tooth. It might also spread to the surrounding tissue and bone.
  • Gingival abscess. This is an abscess on the gums.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of an abscessed tooth is throbbing pain near a tooth or in your gums. The pain usually comes on suddenly and gets worse over time.

Other symptoms include:

  • pain that radiates to your ear, jaw, or neck
  • pain that gets worse when you lie down
  • pain when chewing or biting
  • facial redness and swelling
  • swollen, red gums
  • tooth sensitivity
  • discolored or loose teeth
  • bad breath
  • foul taste in your mouth
  • tender or swollen lymph nodes in your neck or under your jaw
  • fever

What causes Tooth Abscess?

Bacteria getting into your teeth or gums leads to a dental abscess. However, the way this happens depends on the type of abscess:

Periapical abscess – Bacteria enter the pulp within your teeth, usually through a cavity. Pulp refers to the soft, inner part of your tooth. This is made up of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels.
Periodontal abscess – Gum disease usually causes this type, but it can also be the result of an injury.
Gingival abscess – A foreign body, such as a popcorn hull or toothbrush bristle, gets embedded in your gums.

How Tooth Abscess is treated?

Treatment for an abscessed tooth focuses on clearing up the infection and relieving pain. Depending on your symptoms, your dentist might start with a dental X-ray. This will help them see whether the infection has spread to other areas.

Depending on the type and severity of your abscess, treatment options include:

  • Draining the abscess. Your dentist will make a small cut in the abscess to drain the pus. They’ll follow up by cleaning the area with a saline solution.
  • A root canal procedure. A root canal involves drilling into the affected tooth to drain the abscess and remove any infected pulp. Next, your dentist will fill and seal the pulp chamber, which holds pulp, and the root canal. They may also cap your tooth with a crown to strengthen it. A crown procedure is usually done during a separate appointment.
  • Tooth extraction. If your tooth is too damaged, your dentist might remove it before draining the abscess. Your dentist may pull the tooth if it can’t be saved and then drain the abscess.
  • Antibiotics. If the infection has spread beyond the abscessed area or you have a weakened immune system, your dentist might prescribe oral antibiotics to help clear the infection.
  • Removal of foreign object. If your abscess is caused by a foreign object in your gums, your dentist will remove it. They’ll finish up by cleaning the area with a saline solution.

Are there any complications?

It’s important to have any abscessed tooth treated by a dentist. Even if it’s already ruptured, you’ll want to have the area examined and cleaned by your doctor to make sure the infection doesn’t spread.

Left untreated, an infection can spread to your jaw and other parts of your head and neck, including your brain. In rare cases, it can even lead to sepsis. This is a life-threatening complication of an infection.


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