What Exactly is an Abscessed Tooth?

What Exactly is an Abscessed Tooth?

You have probably heard the term before, but do you know what exactly an Abscessed Tooth is? The easiest way to explain this is as follows: An abscessed tooth occurs when bacteria causes an infection in your gums and even inside your tooth. This infection creates a pocket of pus that is unable to naturally drain itself, therefore becoming swollen and painful. This pus pocket is known as an abscess. It is your body’s way to create a barrier around the infection to stop it from spreading. Though it is a natural occurrence if left untreated, the bacterial infection can escalate to other parts of the mouth and affect your overall health.

There are two different kinds of abscesses, including:

  • Periodontal abscess — Which is an infection between the tooth and gum. This type of abscess is usually caused by food getting trapped there and poor cleaning of the teeth. In severe cases, the bacteria can build up and affect the bone.
  • Periapical abscess — Is an infection inside the actual tooth pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue and nerves inside of the root canal, and it can succumb to an infection and begin to die. This particular infection is dangerous as it can  spread to the surrounding bone.

Abscesses can form relatively quickly, usually within one or two days. There will almost always be symptoms, but they may not always be noticeable. Some people may even go for years unaware of an abscessed tooth, which is why you should have regular check-ups with a dentist.

Symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • A visible pus-filled bump in the gums
  • Throbbing in and around the teeth
  • Sharp or shooting pain
  • Bad breath along with a bad taste in the mouth that won’t seem to go away
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Sudden swelling or redness of gums
  • An open sore on your gums
  • General pain when moving your mouth
  • Aching discomfort in the jaw bone
  • Symptoms outside of the mouth and affecting the rest of the body: fever, swollen neck glands, illness, etc.

Potential Problems of an Untreated Abscessed Tooth

Though it might be hard to believe, oral health is generally connected to your overall health. In certain cases, what might have been a small infection in your gums can have serious complications in the rest of your body.

If an abscess is left untreated, what can most likely happen first is that a cyst will form in the jaw bone, requiring the extraction of the tooth surgically. The infection can spread to other parts of the body such as the blood, soft tissues, brain, and heart. Other complications result in fever and pneumonia.

It is highly important that if you suffer from any of the above symptoms, you do not delay seeing a dentist. Some of these problems can be life-threatening and easier to treat when caught early.

Treatment of an Abscessed Tooth

While taking over-the-counter pain medicine may temporarily relieve the symptoms of an abscessed tooth, it is not an alternative to treatment from a professional.

Generally, an abscess is handled by an endodontist who will choose the best treatment for your situation. Their first step may be to drain pus from the abscess by making a small incision.

However, in many cases, this might not be enough and a root canal may be required. A root canal is a procedure to save the tooth by removing the infected pulp inside. They will then clean the inside thoroughly, shape the canal, apply a strengthening filler, and place a crown on it for protection.

Contact Addison Dental Today!

For prevention of or treatment of abscessed teeth call us today. A dentist will be able to see problems that you may not, so contact us today to prevent an abscessed tooth from getting worse. Don’ delay – contact Addison Dental at 630-984-9850 to schedule an appointment today!


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