Healthy Living

What is a Tooth Abscess?

What is a Tooth Abscess?

Key Takeaways

  • Tooth abscesses must be treated immediately to prevent further damage of the infected tooth.
  • A tooth abscess refers to the accumulation of pus caused by a bacterial infection at the root of the tooth or between the tooth and gums.

A tooth abscess refers to the accumulation of pus caused by a bacterial infection at the root of the tooth or between the tooth and gum. Abscess at the tip of the root is known as periapical abscess, while those found in the gums are referred to as periodontal abscesses. Tooth abscesses should be treated to avoid destruction of the tooth and bone tissue beneath the gums. When left untreated, the infection can spread to the pulp and eventually to the bones. Abscesses should be drained to get rid of the infection. Root canal treatment is normally opted to restore the tooth. In other cases, the damaged tooth would have to be extracted.

Tooth decay is the most common cause of a tooth abscess. Breaking or chipping of the tooth and gum disease may also lead to bacterial infection. Bacteria gains access into the tooth through cavities, chipped and cracked teeth, and then spread to the root. This infection may result in swelling and inflammation of the root tip. The two major factors that increase the risk of tooth abscesses include poor dental hygiene and a diet high in sugar content.

Severe and persistent tooth aches are the most common symptom of this oral condition. This may later develop into sharp pain as infection progresses.

Other symptoms of the a tooth abscess include:

  • Fever
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Bitterness
  • Foul smelling breath
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Uneasiness
  • Swelling and soreness in the gums
  • Swelling in the upper or lower jaw
  • Pain while chewing

A toothache can stop if the tooth dies due to infection. However, it may spread to the neighboring teeth and cause abscesses there. This is the reason why symptoms of tooth abscesses should be brought to the attention of the dentist.

Treatment of tooth abscesses focuses on removing infection, avoiding complications, and preserving the tooth. Root canal treatment helps to drain the infection from the affected tooth. Root canal surgery helps in removing the diseased root tissue. To preserve the tooth, a crown may be placed over the treated tooth. Tooth extractions may be opted for in severe cases, which helps in draining the infection through the socket. Incision on the swollen gum may help in drainage.