A tooth abscess is a bacterial infection that causes a pocket of pus to form around your tooth. The pain from a tooth abscess can be severe and spread to other parts of your body. If you have a tooth abscess, you should see a dentist immediately because this condition could become life-threatening if not treated properly.
What Causes a Tooth Abscess?
#1. Untreated Tooth Decay and Cavities
The most common cause of a dental abscess is an untreated cavity or tooth decay. When bacteria enter a decayed area of your teeth, they multiply and create toxins that irritate nearby tissues. This irritation leads to swelling and inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue. As the infection spreads, it may reach the bone and cause a tooth abscess.
#2. Broken, Chipped, or Cracked Teeth
If your tooth breaks off or cracks, it will allow bacteria into the root canal system. Once inside, these bacteria can infect the nerve endings and cause a painful dental abscess.
#3. Trauma to Your Mouth
A blow to your mouth can damage the enamel on your teeth and expose the soft pulp underneath. Bacteria then get access to the pulp and start producing toxins. These toxins irritate the nerves and lead to tooth abscesses.
#4. Poor Oral Hygiene
Bad oral hygiene habits like brushing too hard or using abrasive toothpaste can wear down your teeth and make them more susceptible to cavities. You can prevent dental abscesses by brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once daily.
#5. Gum Disease
Gum disease (periodontal disease) can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth and leave pockets where bacteria can hide. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to dental abscesses.
Types of Tooth Abscesses
There are three common types of tooth abscesses:
- Periapical abscess: This type of severe infection forms at the tip of the roots of a tooth. It occurs when bacteria spreads to the inside of the tooth (where blood vessels and connective tissue are situated) through a fracture or dental cavity.
- Periodontal abscess: This type develops between the gums and tooth roots. It usually starts in the bone and spreads to the surrounding soft tissue.
- Gingival abscess: This type develops in the gums but does not affect the tooth and its surrounding structure.
How Do You Know If You Have a Tooth Abscess?
The main symptom of a dental abscess includes intense throbbing pain that radiates throughout your jaw and face. Other common symptoms include fever, tooth pain, swollen lymph nodes, bad taste, discolored or loose teeth, tenderness over the affected area, pain when chewing or biting, tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods, swelling, and severe pain when you lie down.
When To See a Dentist
You should see a dentist as soon as possible if you experience any signs of a dental abscess. You may need emergency dental treatment if you wait until the problem becomes serious. In addition to treating the abscess, your dentist will remove the infected tooth and repair the damaged areas so the abscess doesn’t reoccur.
Treatment for a Tooth Abscess
Depending on the type and severity of your abscess, treatment options include:
Your dentist may recommend antibiotics if the infection has spread beyond the abscess site. However, it’s important to remember that antibiotics won’t cure a dental abscess. They only treat bacterial infections.
Root Canal Treatment
This dental procedure is performed to clean out the infected part of the tooth. A small hole is drilled into the crown of the tooth to reach the dental pulp chamber. Then, the infected pulp is removed and replaced with a special filling material.
Your oral surgeon may perform surgery to drain the pus and remove the dead tissue.
If all else fails, your dentist may suggest extracting the tooth. This will allow the pus to drain from the socket.
It’s essential to follow up with your dentist after an abscess has been treated because recurrence is common. Your dentist will check to ensure there aren’t any problems with the root canal therapy or other treatments. They may also advise you about how to avoid future abscesses.
Oral Health Tips to Prevent Tooth Abscess
Oral health is essential for preventing tooth abscesses. Here are some tips to help you maintain good oral hygiene and reduce your risk of developing an abscess:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the back of the teeth and along the gum line.
- Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth.
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods that can damage your teeth.
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
- If you have a dental infection, seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading or worsening.
- Quit smoking, as it can increase your risk of developing an abscess.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables for optimal oral health.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if a dental abscess bursts on its own?
If the abscess bursts before your appointment, rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
Is dental abscess an emergency?
Yes, dental abscesses are considered dental emergencies. If you don’t get immediate care, you could develop a life-threatening complication called sepsis.
Will a tooth abscess go away with antibiotics?
No, antibiotics won’t cure a dental abscess. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections.
What does an infected tooth abscess look like?
An infected tooth abscess looks like a a pimple-like swelling on the gums.
How long does a tooth abscess last?
The length of time a tooth abscess lasts depends on the severity of the infection and how quickly it is treated. If left untreated, an abscess can last for several months. However, with prompt treatment, most abscesses can be resolved within a few days.
Get Your Tooth Abscess Treated at Azure Dental!
At Azure Dental, we ensure our patients receive quality dental care services in a comfortable environment. Our friendly staff will ensure you feel at home during your visit. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!