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Abscessed Tooth: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Risks & Prevention

What is an Abscessed Tooth?

A dental abscess develops when bacteria infect and proliferate inside the gums, a tooth or the surrounding tissue. This can start as a cavity or a tooth infection and may cause throbbing pain.

Who are at risk of developing an Abscessed Tooth?

Dental abscesses are more common in people with poor dental health due to poor oral hygiene.

What are the causes of Dental Abscesses?

A dental abscess may be caused by the direct development of the bacteria from an existing cavity in the bones of the neck and the face and in soft tissues.

In the same way, an infected tooth that hasn’t received proper dental care can cause the formation of a dental abscess. Lack of regular dental care can also cause cavities to accumulate in the teeth.

The infection may circulate to the adjacent areas and in the gums and these can become a very excruciating dental abscess.

What are the signs and symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?

  • There is a pimple or swelling on the gum that is also filled with pus. A pimple is referred to as a draining fistula and this can usually be ruptured to release the pus. Evidently, this is a very noticeable indication of infection. Further, other tooth abscess signs are an unpleasant odor in the mouth or bad taste.
  • There is discomfort or pain in pressing on the tooth or when eating. The abscess that has disseminated in the tip of the root causes the bones and gums to be affected. At times, the pulsating or throbbing pain is so serious that it can no longer be relieved with pain medications. Moreover, this is commonly linked with the spread of the infection and eventually causes more pressure on the nearby structures of bones and gums.
  • The fall-out of the neurotic pulp which flows into the permeable layer of the tooth causes discoloration which turns the tooth in dark color as compared to the neighboring teeth.
  • There are cases when an abscessed tooth does not any symptoms at all. Since the tooth has lost its capability to feel stimuli or has lost its vitality, there may be no discomfort or pain linked to it. But, the abscess is still present and may still disperse the infection.
  • Occasionally, an abscessed tooth is diagnosed during X-ray exam where the patient has not encountered any symptoms of this condition.

How are Dental Abscesses Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of an abscessed tooth is generally identified by:

  • Signs and symptoms as reported by the patient
  • What is observed or visualized with X-rays
  • Tests and examinations which are performed by the dentist

How is an Abscessed Tooth Prevented?

  • As always, prevention plays a very pivotal role in keeping excellent dental health. Daily flossing, brushing at least twice per day, rinsing with fluoride-based mouthwash, regular dental checkups and professional cleanings can all greatly aid in preventing dental abscess and tooth decay.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking and as much as possible limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Cavities that could progress into abscesses can commonly be treated if tooth decay is detected and treated early on.

How is an Abscessed Tooth Treated?

The common treatment for an abscessed tooth for an adult teeth starts with carefully and thoroughly removing the infection. Hinging on how much infection has proliferated, the course of action typically comprise of draining the tooth and its surrounding structures of the infection and also through the help of oral antibiotics.

At the time the infection is removed, the tooth may now be restored and a procedure that is required to be performed is none other than a root canal. This procedure cleans out the pulp chamber and the connected canals and then carefully covers the space using a gutta percha known as an inert material that is made of rubber.

In actuality, cleaning and covering the inner space to shield the tooth from more invasive infections. On the other hand, the tooth is extracted instead if the tooth can no longer be restored. This is fundamental in impeding a persistent infection which could damage other teeth.

Through over-the-counter medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen, the pain associated with a dental abscess may be relieved.

Warm water rinses can greatly help cleanse the mouth and reassure drainage if an abscess bursts by itself.

Please take note that a dental abscess generally won’t get better on its own. The dentist is the only one who can remove or treat the infected teeth and drain the pus to prevent further oral and non-oral related problems.

What is the emergency care for Dental Abscesses?

In some cases, the infection can disseminate rapidly and necessitate urgent attention. Likewise, if the emergency dentist is unavailable and there is already swelling in the face and in the jaw as well as fever, then, it is advisable to go to the emergency room and have it checked.

Additionally, dentists typically have out-of-hours contact numbers so consider using local NHS helplines in order for you to easily access out-of-hours dental service.

However, it is absolutely vital to go to the emergency room immediately if the patient is suffering from difficulty in swallowing and breathing.


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