An Overview Of Dental Abscesses

Dental abscesses are pockets of infection that can form in and around the teeth. An abscess that is left untreated will continue to swell and become more painful and may eventually cause serious damage to the jawbone and surrounding tissues. Here is an overview of the types, symptoms, and treatment of dental abscesses.

Dental Abscess Types

The place where the bacterial infection originated determines the type of dental abscess that a patient is suffering from. Periapical abscess, commonly known as tooth abscesses, develop from an infection in the pulp of a damaged tooth. Severe cavities that expose the pulp of a tooth are the most common cause of tooth abscesses.

Periodontal abscess, or gum abscesses, occur in soft tissues that support the teeth. The infection that leads to gum abscesses typically invades the dental socket, the space between the tooth and gums. Gum abscesses are usually seen as less severe than tooth abscesses because they may not kill the pulp of the nearest tooth. This makes it more likely that the affected tooth can be saved.

Dental Abscess Symptoms

Chronic pain in the tooth or gums that gets more severe over time is the signature theme of a dental abscess. Actions that apply pressure to the abscess, such as chewing or touching the teeth and gums, will usually cause sharp pain. You may also notice increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods that is localized to the area of the abscess.

Because an abscess contains pus and infection, you may experience a bad taste in the mouth and suffer from bad breath. In later stages of an abscess, a small tube known as a fistula can form and allow infection to drain out of the abscess. If the infection spreads, fever and full-body aches and pains can occur. You should visit your dentist to have the abscess treated before it progresses to this stage.

Dental Abscess Treatment

Your dentist will treat your abscess differently depending on whether it is a tooth or gum abscess. Tooth abscesses are treated by performing a root canal to drain the abscess and remove infected pulp and then filling the tooth with a bacteria-resistant material known as gutta-percha. Gum abscesses are drained by making a small incision in the gums and then cleaning the roots of the tooth or teeth that are closest to the abscess to prevent the infection from recurring.

Both types of abscess treatment will be followed with a course of antibiotics. If the initial treatment is unsuccessful, you may be referred to an oral surgeon for tooth extraction and/or reshaping of the dental pocket to prevent bacteria from infecting the area again.

Visiting a dentist like Kyle J Frisinger DMD as soon as possible when you suspect that you have a dental abscess is the best way to prevent a more serious infection and maximize the chances of saving your tooth.