An abscessed tooth is a painful infection that forms at the end of the root(s) or extending between the root and the gum. This is most commonly caused by advanced tooth decay, which has left holes in the teeth that extend to the pulp chamber. It may also occur after trauma to the mouth which leaves a tooth chipped or broken. Gum disease can cause infections that travel to the pulp of the tooth through small lateral canals on the root surface.
Existing crowns or fillings can break, shift, or acquire recurrent decay opening the seal that keeps saliva out of your teeth. Anything that compromises the tooth enamel and allows bacteria to have access to the pulp in the root of the tooth can lead to the eventual formation of an abscess. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the bones around the tooth, causing varying degrees of damage.
Abscessed Tooth Symptoms
The most significant symptom of an abscessed tooth is usually a severe toothache. The pain is typically sharp or throbbing and is exacerbating by chewing or exerting pressure on the tooth. You may also experience a fever, swelling and redness of the gums or jaw, general discomfort, or an unpleasant smell or taste in your mouth.
There may be an open sore or bump(s) that look like pimples on the gum. The tooth may get discolored. in abscessed teeth, the nerves in the tooth die because of the infection, the pain may stop, but the infection will continue to worsen.
Consult your general dentist or our office immediately if you experience these symptoms, even if your pain goes away. Infections can sometimes spread very quickly and require immediate attention. Visit the emergency room if your pain, fever, or swelling becomes severe.
Abscessed Tooth Diagnosis
In order to diagnose an abscessed tooth, we will perform a thorough examination. In some cases, sores/pimples on the gum make the diagnosis clear. Red, swollen gums and pain that increases with pressure are also indicative of an abscess. We take X-rays to check for any potential damage to the surrounding bone.
Abscessed Tooth Treatment
The abscess will need to be drained in order to treat the infection. Depending on the scope of the damage, we may recommend root canal therapy or endodontic surgery to complete the draining and repair the tooth. In severe cases, a total extraction may be necessary, but every effort will be made to save your natural tooth.
In the event that a child’s primary tooth forms an abscess, the infection will be treated, but the tooth will not be saved. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to help combat the infection and should be taken exactly as prescribed. Pain and discomfort can be relieved with rinses of warm saltwater and over-the-counter analgesics.
Abscess teeth are extremely painful and completely preventable. Follow a healthy oral hygiene regimen to keep your smile as it should be. Be sure to see your general dentist regularly to catch small problems before they have the chance to progress. Some patients have abscessed teeth that display no symptoms and are only caught in routine exams. If you’re concerned about pain, swelling, or other symptoms related to an abscessed tooth, call our office right away.