An abscess tooth refers to a condition where a pocket of pus forms in a certain part of your tooth, usually below the gum line near the root of the tooth. It can occur due to a bacterial infection that develops inside the tooth. Bacteria can enter the tooth when it’s chipped, broken or during the advanced stages of tooth decay.
When bacteria reach the centre of the tooth, it creates an infection and pus begins accumulating in the tooth. This can result in swelling and a toothache. If not treated, the infection can keep spreading to the gums and bone of the mouth. If you have an abscess, it’s essential to visit a dentist for prompt treatment.
Types of Abscesses
There are varieties in the types of abscesses you can have, which are categorised depending on where they are located:
- Periapical abscess – Located at the tip of a tooth’s root.
- Periodontal abscess – Located on the gum next to the root of a tooth.
- Gingival abscess – Located on the gum or directly below the gum line.
The seriousness of each type of abscess can vary and ultimately depends on the cause of it and how advanced the condition is.
Causes of Abscesses
Periapical abscesses are most commonly caused by bacteria entering the pulp in your teeth through a cavity. Periodontal abscesses are typically caused by gum disease or from physical trauma to a tooth. This abscess has the highest risk of spreading infection to the surrounding tissue and bone.
Gingival abscesses are the least common and are caused by a foreign object getting embedded in your gums. This could be a toothbrush bristle, seed, popcorn hull, or another piece of hard food. It can be difficult to determine the type and cause of an abscess so it’s best to visit the dentist promptly for a diagnosis and treatment before the problem gets worse.
Symptoms of an Abscess
Symptoms of a tooth abscess vary but the most common is experiencing throbbing pain near a tooth or in your gums. The pain can come on suddenly and gets worse over time. Other symptoms include:
- Pain when biting down on food or chewing
- Redness and swelling in the face
- Swollen, red gums
- Pain that escalates when you lie down
- Pain radiating to your ear, jaw or neck
- Tooth sensitivity
- Discoloured or loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Tender or swollen lymph nodes in your neck or under your jaw
Your abscess can rupture. When this happens it’s common to feel immediate pain relief and a salty, unpleasant taste in your mouth as the pus drains out.
Treating an Abscess
Even if your abscess ruptures and the pain goes away, it’s still absolutely essential to seek dental treatment. The infection will still be there and a new pocket of pus can form. Worse, it can spread to your jaw and other areas of your head and neck. You may even develop sepsis if it’s left untreated, which is potentially life-threatening
Treatment depends on the type of abscess. Your dentist will typically drain the pus, use antibiotics to clear the infection and perform a root canal treatment. You may need a crown or an extraction if a tooth is heavily damaged from the infection.
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At Mango Hill Dental, we provide a wide range of restorative, preventative and cosmetic dentistry services in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Contact us today to book an appointment today at our clinic in North Lakes.