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Abscessed Tooth

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A toothache keeping you awake all night? Well, it might be something more than a simple toothache. It could be an abscessed tooth that makes it difficult to carry out daily tasks, talk, eat, drink, etc. during the day and disrupt your sleep at night. The severe, throbbing pain due to an abscessed tooth can get better only with medical help.

What is Dental Abscess?

Dental abscess or abscessed tooth is an infection that occurs in or around the tooth. The infection can occur at the root of the tooth or between the teeth and gum. The abscess contains pus caused due to the bacterial infection.

The infection occurs due to the presence of bacteria in the mouth that breaks down leftover food particles and saliva in the mouth. This causes plaque buildup. If one does not brush and floss well, the bacteria gain entry into the tooth and reach the soft tissues or tooth pulp. Thus, leading to an abscess.

There are different types of abscesses:

  • Periapical abscess:The infection occurs at the tip of the root. The original infection is in the pulp of the tooth and spreads towards the bottom of the tooth. The infection reaches the pulp due to an untreated cavity, tooth injury, etc.
  • Periodontal abscess: The infection occurs in the gum near the infected tooth.

The tooth abscess is cleared after draining out the pus and infection. A root canal may help save the tooth in some cases. However, the tooth needs to be pulled in a few cases. If left untreated, the abscess can lead to many serious complications.

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Symptoms of abscessed tooth

The symptoms of dental abscess include:

  • Continuous pain that can be sharp, throbbing, gnawing and extremely painful
  • Pain may elevate when pressure or hot compress is applied
  • Pain at the base of the tooth, near the gum, cheek
  • In case of acute abscess, it is painless, but causes swelling of the gums
  • In some cases, the infection spreads to the bone and drains into the surrounding tissues. Thus, leading to local facial swelling.
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperature, chewing, biting
  • Inability to talk due to extreme pain
  • Foul tasting and foul smelling fluid in the mouth due to the pus draining from the ruptured abscess

Causes of abscessed tooth

The main cause of abscessed tooth is a dental infection. In case of periapical abscess, the bacteria enter the tooth through the dental cavities. It causes infection of the pulp within the tooth, and gradually spreads to the alveolar bone, leading to an abscess.

Periodontal abscess occurs in patients suffering from periodontitis. The plaque covering the teeth causes inflammation of the gums. This causes the tissue surrounding the tooth root to separate from the base of the tooth. This causes a small gap, called the periodontal pocket. Bacteria begin to grow in this pocket leading to periodontal abscess.

Diagnosis of abscessed tooth

The dentist will examine your teeth and gums. He will take an X ray to identify the abscess.

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Treatment of abscessed tooth

Treatment of an abscessed tooth, first involves taking steps that help save the tooth. The dentist will drain the abscess by making a small cut in the abscess. The pus will drain out and the wound will be cleaned with salt water.

A root canal is performed to help save the tooth from extraction. The dentist will drill into the tooth and remove the infected pulp and drain the abscess. Then, the pulp chamber will be filled and a crown will be placed over the tooth to help strengthen it.

In some cases, the dentist has no choice, but to pull out or extract the tooth. After the extraction, the pus will be drained and infection controlled.

If the infection has spread to other teeth, gums, jaw line, etc. the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help control the infection.

Complications of abscessed tooth

If left untreated, the abscess will spread to the jaw and other areas of the face and neck. It may lead to osteomyelitis, cellulitis and the life-threatening complication sepsis.

Prevention of abscessed tooth

Prevention plays a major role in protection of the teeth. One should brush daily and floss regularly. If one spots a cavity, get it treated before it leads to other dental complication. Regular dental checkups will help keep dental problems at bay.

Abscessed tooth is a very painful condition. Avoid eating a lot sugary foods and keep sipping sips of water to prevent a dry mouth. Speak to your dentist and get dental abscess treated soon. Maintain good dental hygiene to prevent dental trouble.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: June 06, 2015