An abscessed tooth is basically a dental condition wherein the underlying pulp of the tooth has become infected. There are various causes for this painful condition, and one of the most common is tooth decay. Dental caries, when left untreated, can develop further and spread into the pulp of the tooth. Bacteria from decayed teeth then infect the nerves and tissues and cause pain.
Cracked teeth and abscesses.
In addition to tooth decay, another cause of tooth abscesses is trauma. Cracks in the tooth that are large enough can expose the pulp to bacteria which can then infect the underlying tissue. Another cause of tooth abscesses is necrosis of the nerves after recent dental treatment. During placement of crowns or fillings, the dental nerve can be affected and become necrotic due to the procedure.
The signs and symptoms of a tooth abscess can vary, depending on the extent of the infection. However, since the nerve of the tooth is affected, a common manifestation for tooth abscesses is pain. This can either present as a sharp, shooting pain while chewing, a constant toothache, or a dull, throbbing pain. In addition to pain, tooth abscesses will also present with symptoms common to infections, such as redness, swelling, and inflammation of the affected area, as well as fever and swollen glands in the neck. Bad breath, a bitter or odd taste in the mouth, and drainage of fluid from the gums are also other manifestations of this condition.
Diagnosis of a tooth abscess can be based on symptoms with or without radiographic examination. On x-ray, tooth abscesses basically present with bone loss along the ends of the dental roots.
What are my treatment options?
Treatment options for abscessed teeth require removal of infected pulp tissue through root canal therapy. If the affected portion is very large, includes extensive tooth decay or involves the wisdom teeth, tooth extraction may be more effective. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent the infection from spreading to adjacent tissues; however, this is not always indicated. Warm compresses, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may be necessary to minimise pain and discomfort.
How can I prevent an abscess from reoccurring?
There are various ways to prevent the formation of tooth abscesses. The first among these is proper oral care. Regular brushing and flossing will help prevent tooth decay that can later on cause infections. Visiting the dentist to address dental cavities and other tooth problems can also lessen the likelihood of cavities or cracks growing bigger and reaching the tooth’s pulp. It’s very important to remember that tooth abscesses will not fully resolve without seeing a dentist, and as such, visiting a medical professional as soon as teeth are damaged or symptoms manifest is essential.