Tooth Abscess: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


A tooth abscess happens when a bacterial infection causes a pocket of pus in the tooth. The abscess can incur at various regions of the tooth for various reasons. Whereas a periodontal abscess occurs in the gums next to the root of the tooth, the periapical abscess occurs at the root tip.

The abscessed tooth is one cause of toothache. Anyone from kids to the elderly can be affected by it.

If you have a tooth abscess, you can rest assured that it is not going to get better all by itself. You must need treatment from an endodontist or dentist. If you leave the tooth abscess untreated it can spread to the other parts of the mouth from the jaw to the neck, head and other parts of the body.

Causes of Tooth Abscess

The painful and the abscessed teeth can have different sources. They can range from a cracked tooth or filling to teeth decay or gum infection. The latter is especially the case in the advanced form of gum disease.

The different types of teeth abscesses can be caused in the following ways –

  • Periodontal Abscess – Gum ailment usually gives rise to this type of abscess. But it can also be caused because of some kind of injury.
  • Periapical Abscess – Through a cavity, the bacteria enter the pulp within the teeth. The pulp consists of the soft inner part of the teeth that contains the connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels.
  • Gingival Abscess – The foreign body like a toothbrush bristle or popcorn hull gets embedded in your gums.

Your mouth is full of bacteria and it is kept out of the teeth by the solid tooth enamel. But if the enamel gets eroded by tooth decay or if you have a chipped tooth then the bacteria can get into the living pulp inside the tooth.

The immune system combats the same by sending the white blood cells for killing the bacteria. These white blood cells, bacteria and dead tissues together create pus.

There is no extra space inside the hard tooth. That is why it tries to drain out the tooth root tip into the jaw. A pocket of pus can be formed at the tip of the root. The abscess can appear on the x-ray. The tooth becomes painful because of inflammation and pressure.

Symptoms of Tooth Abscess

The throbbing pain in the gums and near the tooth is the major symptom of the abscessed tooth. The pain usually starts all of a sudden and gets worse over time. It can also spread to the surrounding bones and tissues. The major symptoms include –

  • The pain gets worse when you lie down
  • Pain radiating to your neck, jaw or ear
  • Facial swelling and redness
  • Pain at the time of biting or chewing
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Swollen red gums
  • The loose or discolored teeth
  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Swollen or tender lymph nodes in the neck or under the jaw

You will feel almost immediate pain relief if the abscess bursts. As the pass drains out you may also notice a sudden bad taste in the mouth.

Treatment of Tooth Abscess

The treatment of the abscessed tooth focuses on clearing up the infection and relieving the pain. On the basis of the symptom, your St George dentist may start with a dental X-ray. This will assist the dentist in seeing whether the infection has spread to other areas.

The treatment options include the following depending on the severity of the abscess. Just take a look.

  • Root Canal Treatment – The root canal involves drilling into the affected tooth for draining the abscess and remove the pulp that is infected. After that, your dentist will seal the pulp chamber that holds the pulp up as well as the root canal. They can also cap the tooth with a crown for strengthening it. A crown process is usually done at the time of a separate appointment.
  • Draining of the Abscess – This time the dentist can make a small cut for draining the pus. They can follow up by cleaning the area with the saline solution.
  • Removing the Foreign Objects – If the abscess is caused by a foreign object in the gums, it will be removed by the dentist. Then with the help of the saline solution, the area will be all cleaned up.
  • Extraction of Tooth – Your dentist can remove the tooth prior to the abscess if it is too damaged. The tooth will be pulled by the dentist if it can’t be saved and the abscess will be drained afterward.
  • Treating with Antibiotics – If you have a weakened immune system and if the infection has spread beyond the area that is abscessed your dentist can suggest oral antibiotics for clearing the infection.

If you are unable to get an appointment with your dentist at the best dental clinic to get your abscess treated, then temporarily you can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen to assist you with the pain. You can also rinse the mouth with warm salt water to achieve relief n this case.

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