Tooth Abscess

1 What is Tooth Abscess?

Tooth abscess is formation of pus in different regions of the tooth due to bacterial infections. A periapical abscess occurs at the tip of the root whereas periodontal abscess occurs in the gums next to tooth root.

Treatment is done by draining the pus and stopping the infection. Untreated tooth abscess may lead to life threatening complications.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of tooth abscess include:

  • Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that radiates to the jawbone, neck or ear.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
  • Sensitivity to pressure of chewing or biting.
  • Fever
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes under the jaw.
  • Foul smell from the mouth.

3 Causes

Tooth abscess is caused by bacterial infections.

When a bacterium invades the dental pulp, periapical tooth abscess develops. Due to remaining food particles bacterial invasion occurs. The microbe enters through dental cavity or through a chip or crack in the tooth and spreads down to the root.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of tooth abscess is done by performing several tests.

In case of tooth abscess a dentist may thoroughly examine the tooth and look for signs of inflammation that is pain, swelling and redness and may also gently tap on the tooth.

Generally, a tooth that has abscess is sensitive to touch and pressure. In those cases, where the exact location cannot be determined by physical examination or to check the spreading of the abscess, X-ray or CT scan may be recommended.

5 Treatment

The treatment goals for tooth abscess include draining the pus and getting rid of the infection. The following procedures may be performed:

  • Open up and drain the abscess- The dentist makes small cut into the abscess and gives way to the pus to be drained out and after that, the area is washed with salt water.
  • Performing root canal- The dentist drills into the tooth, removes central tissue and drain the abscess. He or she then fills and seals the tooth’s pulp chamber and tooth canals. This procedure helps to eliminate the infection and save the tooth.
  • Remove the affected tooth- In some cases, where the infection is very severe complete tooth is pulled out and then the abscess is drained.
  • Medications- When the infection has spread to other places, the dentist will most likely prescribe antibiotics to prevent further spreading.

6 Prevention

Tooth abscess can be prevented since genetics or hereditary factors don’t really play an important role in the development of this disease. It mostly develops due to lack of proper hygiene.

Following are some preventive measure to be taken:

  • Using fluorinated drinking water.
  • Brushing teeth twice a day.
  • Using dental floss or an interdental cleaner.
  • Replacing toothbrush every 3-4 months.
  • Eating healthy (less sugary) food.
  • Washing the mouth after every meal.
  • Visit the dentist on a regular basis and consider using antiseptic or fluoride mouth wash to add an extra layer of protection against germs.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

While the tooth abscess is healing with the doctor’s treatment, the following home remedies can be used to ease discomfort:

  • washing the mouth with warm salt-water,
  • taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen among others to get relief from the symptoms.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with tooth abscess.

After being diagnosed with tooth abscess, eating becomes painful. People trend to stay away due to the foul smell and contagious infection. Therefore, it is important to get rid of the infection, avoid sugary foods and beverages, follow proper dental hygiene and eat nutritious food.

9 Risks and Complications

Following are factors that can increase the risk of tooth abscess:

  • Poor dental hygiene- not brushing your teeth twice and not flossing can increase the risk of bacterial infection and related complications.
  • A diet high in sugar- sugar rich foods and beverages play an important role in tooth decay and abscess formation. Without treatment tooth abscess doesn’t heal up.

Untreated abscess may rupture and spread to jaw, head and neck. Even sepsis (bacterial intoxication) may develop. People with weakened immune system should get immediate help from doctor since the risk of spreading in such people is even more