Understanding the symptoms of an abscessed tooth is the first step to helping identify the problem before it becomes a more serious issue. If an abscessed tooth is left untreated, it can cause an infection in the jawbone and surrounding tissues and become life-threatening.
Learn more about the symptoms of a tooth abscess and what treatments are available to alleviate your discomfort.
What is an Abscessed Tooth?
Tooth decay, periodontal disease, or a dental injury can allow a bacterial infection to damage the pulp inside the tooth, which contains the tooth’s blood vessels and nerve endings. This infection can cause a pocket of pus to form at the root tip, or the gum tissue called an abscess.
Depending on where the infection is located, there are three different types of dental abscesses.
- Periapical abscess: is located at the tip of the tooth’s root and is caused by an infection of the tooth’s pulp.
- Gingival abscess: is located on the gums and is most often the result of a foreign object, such as a popcorn hull or toothbrush bristles, becoming embedded in the gums.
- Periodontal abscess: a pus-filled pimple on the gum adjacent to the tooth root, usually caused by periodontitis (gum disease) or an injury.
How Can I Tell if I Have an Abscess?
The most common symptom of an abscessed tooth is discomfort in the tooth or gum tissue. This discomfort typically begins suddenly and becomes worse over time.
You may also experience pain that radiates to your ear, jaw, or neck, gets worse when you lie down or intensifies when you bite and chew. In addition to severe discomfort, other tooth abscess symptoms include:
- Sensitivity in one or more teeth
- Red or swollen gums
- Swelling or redness in the cheeks and face
- A foul taste or bad breath
- Loose teeth, or teeth that look discolored
- Swelling and tenderness in the lymph nodes of the neck and under the jaw
- Sudden fever
Sometimes, an abscessed tooth can rupture, allowing the pus to drain from the infected area. Even though this may relieve the pain, an infection can lead to serious medical problems if not properly treated. Contacting your dentist is the first step you should take if you think you have a dental abscess.
Treatments for an Abscessed Tooth
Your dentist determines a suitable treatment for an abscessed tooth depending on the location and severity of the abscess; there are several options:
- Drainage: A small incision is made in the abscess to drain the pus, followed by a saline rinse. Root canal therapy: A root canal removes the infected pulp from within the tooth. The space is filled with gutta-percha, and a cap or crown is added to seal and protect the tooth.
- Extraction: If a tooth can’t be saved, you may need to have the tooth extracted so the abscess can be properly drained.
- Antibiotics: Your dentist may prescribe oral antibiotics if you have a weakened immune system or if the infection has spread beyond the abscessed area.
Personalized Care at TruBlu Dentistry
Getting the best treatment possible for a dental abscess is crucial in restoring your oral health and preserving your smile. TruBlu Dentistry offers numerous abscess treatment options so you can get the care you need for your unique smile.