Tooth Abscess: Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes

tooth abscess symptoms and treatment

Your Toothache Could Be A Tooth Abscess

Anyone who has experienced a tooth abscess before knows how painful it can be, and would probably recommend for others to take good care of their teeth. Understanding tooth abscess symptoms and treatment, as well as its causes, can help prevent one from happening inside your mouth.  If you think you may be experiencing a mild or acute abscess, be sure to call your dentist immediately.

Understanding the signs of a dental abscess also requires that a person understands the basics of what a dental abscess is. While it's more than just your average toothache, it's not something dentists and hygienists will be unfamiliar with.


What Is A Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess is a small pocket of pus which develops on or near a person's tooth as a result of a bacterial infection. While an abscess can actually occur on any part of the body, some abscesses form within the mouth due to untreated dental cavities, poorly-performed dental procedures, or mouth-related injuries.

There are three main types of dental abscesses:

  • Periapical Abscesses
    Periapical abscesses typically form on the very tip of a tooth's root.
  • Periodontal Abscesses
    Periodontal abscesses form on the side of a tooth's root, rather than on the very tip.
  • Gingival Abscesses
    Gingival abscesses consist of those which form on or within a person's gums.


Can An Abscess Go Away On Its Own?

Unfortunately, a dental abscess cannot go away on its own. If left untreated, an abscess can cause the infection to continue spreading, ultimately causing further issues, and potentially even including life-threatening complications.  If you have a tooth abscess, you'll need to see a dentist to have it drained and treated - and for your own sake, you'll want to do so sooner, rather than later.

Before being treated, an abscess will naturally attempt to spread into your tooth's pulp or the soft tissue beneath which contains nerve endings and connective tissues. Enough of the infection reaching your tooth's pulp, and it will die, requiring a root canal, or the removal of the pulp entirely.

Tooth infection beneath an abscess can spread even beyond the pulp, sometimes infecting the jaw, other teeth, or other surrounding tissues. The purpose of treating the tooth's abscess is simply to prevent this spread of infection from causing other or worse issues.




What Causes A Tooth Abscess?

Tooth abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection, which can result from a number of issues - most commonly, from a person not taking proper care of his or her teeth. In general, the same rules of thumb for reducing and reversing tooth decay apply to preventing a dental abscess from happening.

By brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, you'll continue to prevent plaque and tartar build-up from causing oral infection. Additionally, by seeing your dentist at least twice per year, they'll have a better chance of catching issues before they arrive - and hopefully well before they develop into dental abscesses.


Tooth Abscess: Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms Of A Tooth Abscess

The most common symptoms of an oral abscess are as follows:

  • Throbbing pain near a tooth, teeth, or gums
  • Radiating pain through the jaw, neck, or ear
  • Pain when chewing
  • Oral sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Swollen or red gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Loose or discolored teeth
  • Bad breath, or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing, and or breathing
  • Fever

Any dental abscess is going to be immediately marked by pain radiating from the site of the abscess and will require treatment through drainage to sufficiently subdue the pain.


Tooth Abscess Treatment

Treatment of a tooth abscess will vary depending on the type and severity of the abscess and surrounding infection. However, dentists will almost always need to drain the pus in order to treat an abscess. After draining the abscess, dentists will clean the area of all foreign debris and infected material.

Next, they will need to identify the correct way to move forward - in many cases, an abscess will require a root canal or tooth extraction. Sometimes, however, it will simply mean the drainage of pus, removal of foreign debris, and a thorough cleaning.

A dentist will also often prescribe antibiotic medication to the patient for a dental abscess, especially if he or she has a weak immune system or the infection has spread substantially.


Treating a Tooth Abscess

While treating a dental abscess is a fairly routine procedure for dental practices, we also understand that it can seem daunting for patients. Dealing with dental anxiety is one of our specialties at Peach Valley Dental, so we're prepared to help you feel relaxed, calm, and safe in our office.  If you think you might be experiencing tooth abscess or other dental-related problems, reach out today at 404-254-5196!

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