When a tooth gets infected and the infection spreads to or around the root so that it forms a pocket of pus, it’s called an abscessed tooth. If you have an abscessed tooth, you need immediate treatment from a dentist or an endodontist who can help save your tooth and prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body.
In today’s blog post, we’ll discuss the various causes, symptoms and the treatment of abscessed tooth.
The Causes of Abscessed Tooth
Although tooth enamel is a hard substance, the inner chamber of the tooth is made up of blood vessels, connective tissues and nerves. This chamber is collectively known as the pulp chamber. Sometimes the pulp chamber of the tooth can get infected resulting from periodontal disease, tooth decay or cracks. The infection gradually kills the pulp and leads to an abscess which is made up of dead white blood cells, bacteria and tissue debris. The abscess can occur in different regions of the tooth and it can be categorized as Periapical Abscess and Periodontal Abscess (gum abscess).
As the bacteria continue to grow, the infection spreads to the bottom of the root and into the bone from the pulp chamber. As a result, one abscess can move through the bone and appear at several other spots.
Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth
The general symptoms of an abscessed tooth are:
- Discolouration of tooth compared to surrounding teeth.
- Throbbing pain with eating or when pressing the tooth.
- Swelling of the gums near the affected tooth that looks like a pimple and oozes out liquid when pressed.
- Swollen lymph nodes, jaw and face with a throbbing pain.
- Bad taste.
- Trouble in swallowing food.
- Gum redness.
However, an abscessed tooth may also not show any of these symptoms including pain. But the pus will be present and can keep spreading the infection. The pain doesn’t occur in such cases because the abscess pocket has found a location to drain.
How to Treat Abscessed Tooth
A dentist can diagnose an abscessed tooth through dental X-rays. If s/he feels that you need the intervention of an endodontist for proper detection, you may be referred to a specialist. The endodontist will examine your tooth and recommend treatment procedures as needed.
The common ways of treating an abscessed tooth are:
- Antibiotics: To get rid of the infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics by the dentist. However, this won’t prevent the condition.
- Root Canal: It’s one of the best solutions to save your affected tooth. The endodontist will clean the pulp chamber and root canals by drilling into the tooth. Once cleaned, s/he will fill and seal the empty spaces or fit a dental crown so that your tooth functions like other teeth.
- Extraction: If the affected tooth can’t be restored, the dentist will extract it.
- Surgery: This may be required when you have a periodontal abscess. It’s only through a surgery that the pus can be drained out.
However, if a primary tooth of a child has abscessed there’s hardly anything that can be done to save it. The dentist will completely remove or extract the tooth to avoid persistent infection.
Getting regular dental checkups, cleanings and maintaining daily oral hygiene is crucial to keep your teeth healthy. If you have any of the above symptoms or have spotted an unusual swelling in your gums, visit a dentist without delay!