Abscess on a Tooth; Everything you Need to Know

An abscess is a collection which can form inside an infected tooth, around inflamed gums or inside the jawbone. When an abscess appears around a tooth, it is known as a periodontal abscess.

What Causes an Abscess on A Tooth?

The primary reason for the development of a tooth abscess is poor oral hygiene. However, some of the situations which can increase the risk of development of a tooth abscess include:

  • Teeth Cavities – long-standing teeth cavities increase the chances of penetration of the harmful bacteria deeper within the tooth structure, thereby leading to the formation of an abscess.
  • Gum Disease – when there is prolonged adherence of the plaque and tartar on the teeth, the harmful bacteria result in an inflammation of the gums and the periodontal tissues, ultimately leading to an infection.
  • Tooth Injury – when a tooth becomes fractured or cracked due to an injury, there are chances that the underlying pulp tissue may become exposed to the oral environment. If this happens, the harmful bacteria result in an inflammation of the pulp tissue. If the condition is not treated timely, the infection may extend into the gums and periodontal tissues, resulting in a pus-filled swelling around the infected tooth.

What are the Symptoms of a Tooth Abscess?

The most common and obvious sign of a tooth abscess is swelling. However, if you’re suffering from some or all of the following symptoms, then there are chances that you are having an abscess on a tooth:

  • Pain – the pain may be continuous, or it may be felt whenever you eat or drink something. In advanced stages, the pain associated with a dental abscess may not be relieved with a painkiller.
  • Swelling – the swelling becomes visible due to the formation of pus around the tooth and the gums. Sometimes, pus can be seen oozing out of the swelling when you brush your teeth or press the inflamed gums.
  • Bad Taste and Odor – the bad taste and foul odor are due to the presence of pus inside the oral cavity.
  • Fever – severe infection inside or around the tooth can also result in high-grade fever.
  • Lose Tooth – the affected tooth may appear mobile due to long-standing periodontal disease.

How is a Tooth Abscess Treated?

The treatment of a tooth abscess involves elimination of the underlying cause. Some of the measures undertaken by dentists to treat an abscess include:

  • Professional Teeth Cleaning – this procedure involves the use of an ultrasonic scaler which is used for removing the plaque and tartar deposits from the teeth. This helps in reducing the symptoms, and in minimizing future chances of development of an abscess.
  • Root Canal Treatment – this is the ultimate solution to save an abscessed tooth from extraction. A root canal procedure involves using a special instrument to remove the inflamed pulp from the infected tooth.
  • Surgical Drainage of the Infection – if required, your dentist may also surgically drain the pus to reduce the symptoms.
  • Antibiotic Therapy – in case of severe infection, your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics which are helpful in accelerating the healing process.

Once the infection has been completely treated, the affected tooth is restored with a suitable filling material. In case the tooth receives heavy chewing forces, then it must be reinforced with a crown to prevent chances of fracture.

A dental abscess is undoubtedly a painful condition, which can be easily prevented. Simply maintain optimal oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing, and frequent dental visits, and you won’t have to worry about gum problems, teeth cavities or tooth abscesses anymore.

Originally from Birmingham, Philip achieved his Bachelor of Dental Surgery, BDS with Merit from University of Wales Cardiff Dental School In 1997. Having worked in several practices, he has been dedicated to private practice since 2002. He offers private dental treatments to the people of Stourbridge, Hagley, Pedmore and the wider West Midlands area.

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