An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus that forms around an infected tooth caused by a bacterial infection. They can feel quite painful, with moderate to severe discomfort radiating down the neck or in the ears. A tooth abscess can occur in just about anyone, from children to senior patients.
Left untreated, the infection can spread through other parts of your body putting you at risk for serious problems. Understanding what causes an abscessed tooth will hopefully prevent the likelihood of ever getting one.
What Causes an Abscessed Tooth?
On the inside, our teeth are filled with a pulp containing nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels. The infection enters through the tooth and can be caused by a number of reasons, including:
- Tooth decay
- An untreated cavity or cracked filling
- A chipped or cracked tooth
- Advanced gum disease
When the infection kills the pulp, it can lead to a dental abscess. There are two types that could occur:
Periapical abscess, where the tip of the root of the tooth becomes infected
Periodontal abscess, which affects the bone next to the tooth
Signs and Symptoms of Abscessed Teeth
The main sign that something is wrong will be a toothache accompanied by throbbing pain in the gums. As it worsens and becomes more infected, you may notice:
- Pain radiating to your ears or down your neck and along the jaw
- Red, swollen gums
- Jaw pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain when chewing
- Trouble breathing, eating, and swallowing
If you see something that resembles a pimple on your gums that oozes liquid when you press on it, that is a sure sign of an abscess.
Treating an Abscessed Tooth
Unfortunately an abscessed tooth is not something that can be treated by home remedies. It requires the guidance of a dental professional. In cases where the abscess ruptures on its own, it is still important to see your dentist to control the infection.
Once your dentist has confirmed the presence of an abscess, they will treat your tooth accordingly, depending on the severity.
Treatment options include:
- Draining the abscess by making a small incision to drain the pus. Once the pus is gone, your dentist will disinfect the area with a saline solution.
- Root canal treatment. This means drilling into the tooth to drain the pus and remove the infected pulp. From there, your dentist will seal the hole and possibly protect the tooth further with a crown.
- Antibiotics. If the tooth infection has spread beyond the site of the abscess to other parts of your body then your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection.
- Extraction. If the tooth is beyond repair, the only course of treatment may be to remove it completely.
Preventing Tooth Abscess
As with most dental infections and problems, good oral health outside of your regular dental visits will reduce the likelihood of experiencing dental emergencies. To keep those teeth and gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once per day
- See your dentist twice annually for regular check-ups
- Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary foods, sodas, and foods rich in carbohydrates
- Avoid frequent eating
- Quit smoking
Visit Our Monroe NC Dentist Office For An Appointment
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed in this article, call the friendly staff at Monroe Family Dentistry at 704-753-0753 to visit your Dr. Mjahed today. We proudly serve the Monroe, NC community.
Treatment For Tooth Abscess At Our Dental Practice in Monroe, NC
Monroe Family Dentistry is there for you and your children from day one and we are happy to work with you and your child to start habits from birth. If you live near Monroe, NC call us to schedule an appointment today at 704.776.4278.