Tooth Abscess – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is a tooth abscess?
A tooth abscess is a pocket of a localized collection of pus in the center of a tooth. A bacterial infection causes it. This condition can also occur in the gums, or in the bone that holds the teeth in place. A tooth abscess causes a severe toothache and can destroy the tissue.
What causes a tooth abscess?
Bacterial infection is the main cause of a tooth abscess. Tooth decay, injury, or a chipped tooth can lead to bacterial infection. Infection results in a buildup of pus and tissue swelling within the tooth. Openings in the tooth enamel allow bacteria to infect the center of the tooth (the pulp). Infection may spread from the root of the tooth to the bones supporting the tooth.
What are the symptoms of a tooth abscess?
A severe toothache is the main symptom of a tooth abscess. The pain is felt continuously, which can be described as gnawing, sharp, shooting, or throbbing. It does not stop.
The following are the other symptoms of a tooth abscess:
- The sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold substances
- Swelling of the gum over the infected tooth
- Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw (a very serious symptom)
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Pain when chewing
- Swollen glands of the neck
- Bad breath
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
How is a tooth abscess diagnosed?
Your dentist will perform a close examination your teeth, mouth, and gums. The examination may reveal swollen, red gums that may drain thick material. There may be a pain when the dentist taps the tooth. Biting or closing the mouth tightly also causes pain.
Your dentist will perform dental x-rays and other tests to help determine which tooth or teeth are infected and abscessed.
How is a tooth abscess treated?
The goal of treatment would be to cure the infection, save the tooth, and prevent complications.
Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be recommended to relieve your toothache. Warm saltwater rinses can help ease the pain.
Your dentist may recommend a root canal to try and save the tooth.
In cases of severe infection, the dentist may remove the tooth or perform surgery to drain the abscess. Sometime, hospital admission may be needed if other severe symptoms accompany the infection and toothache.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.