What is a Tooth Abscess?

What is a Tooth Abscess?

Perhaps the only thing you’ve ever known about tooth abscesses is that you don’t want one. But why is it so bad? What exactly is it? Frankly, it’s something you definitely want to avoid. A tooth abscess is a collection of pus at the tip of a single tooth; a pocket of fluid within the tissue surrounding the tooth’s apex. It’s often a result of an infection in the pulp of a tooth. This pulp infection can be caused by a serious gum disease, tooth decay or maybe something as simple as a chipped tooth. It sounds bad enough as it is, but does it hurt?

The actual infection of the pulp may not cause any pain, but once an abscess has formed, there is usually an ongoing, extreme pain in the tooth and the gums surrounding it. Using that tooth to chew or putting any sort of heat to it will only cause more pain and the abscess may also cause swelling in the gums or cheek. Luckily, the swelling can be managed by pressing the usual ice pack to the affected tissue. Yet, with an acute abscess, the swelling may occur but the pain may not. In any case, if there are any symptoms of a dental problem, a dentist should be consulted immediately.

In some serious cases, the abscess could get through the bone and drain into nearby facial tissues. This can cause a more serious case of swelling and puff up more than just some gums and a little bit of your cheek. The abscess may also affect the lymph glands in the neck, which may become tender and a little swollen. If the abscess is bad enough, it may even cause pain similar to a migraine. But, generally, pain in the gums surrounding the infected tooth is common and the tooth itself is extremely tender to the touch.

Abscess Treatment

Obviously, it sounds like a lot of painful possibilities rolled up into one. It’s definitely something you want to get rid of immediately. Truly, the only way to get on the path to recovery is to visit your dentist. They can help identify whether or not that pesky pain is caused by a tooth abscess and, if it is, they can help you get rid of it and return to happy dental health. Unfortunately, the treatment of a tooth abscess isn’t always a skip in the park. What is done to solve the problem may depend on how bad the infection is and can go something like this:

If there is, in fact, a tooth abscess, the dentist will do their best in reducing the infection in the tooth. This can be done by either antibiotics or drainage, but whether or not the tooth will stay nested in your gums or not depends on the state of the tooth itself.
If the tooth looks like it can be saved, a root canal procedure will be performed to remove as much of the infection as possible.
If the tooth is too far gone, then it will be extracted completely and some of the surrounding tissue will be removed in order to reduce the infection as much as possible.
It sounds like a lot of scary bits and pieces, but it will be worth it. If the tooth is still hanging on and was treated with a root canal procedure, the tooth will be checked at a year mark and also at a two year mark to make sure that everything is properly healed and the problem is not reoccurring.

Now that you know about tooth abscesses, be sure to visit the dentist if you suspect you have one. Even if isn’t an abscess, it’s better to be safe than sorry and may prevent worse issues that can result if you wait.