A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms within the tooth or gums and can cause symptoms including toothache and fever. It is important to get dental attention as soon as possible if an abscess is suspected, as complications can develop.
Types of abscesses
There are three types of dental abscesses: periapical, periodontal, and gingival abscesses.
Periapical abscesses are located at the root of the tooth and typically occur when the blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves inside the tooth become infected. This can arise when a cavity or chipped tooth allows bacteria to enter the inner part of the tooth, called the pulp.
A periodontal abscess is located in the area between the tooth and gum and is caused by periodontal (gum) disease or injury. In an individual with gum disease, space can form between the tooth and the gum. When this area becomes filled with bacteria, an abscess may form and visible swelling or boil can often be seen.
A gingival abscess is located on the gums, and is the result of a foreign object, such as food, becoming stuck in the gums.
- Pain in tooth or gums, increasing in severity over time
- Ear, jaw, or neck pain
- Red and swollen gums
- Facial swelling
- Tooth sensitivity
- Bad breath
- Swollen lymph nodes
If an abscess ruptures, an individual may feel temporary relief as the pus drains from the lesion. However, it is still important to get dental treatment, as the bacteria may spread to surrounding areas such as the jaw, head, and neck.
Tooth Abscess Treatment
For a periapical abscess, the typical treatment is a root canal. This allows the dentist to recover the damaged pulp by allowing the pus to drain from the abscess and then removing the dead tissue. A filling is then placed into the space. In severe cases, the tooth may need to be removed completely. In the case of periodontal tooth abscess treatment, the dentist will drain the pus pocket and help promote the reattachment of the gum to the tooth. To treat a gingival abscess, a scaling procedure or root canal may be necessary.
Although rare, dental abscesses may cause serious complications if left untreated. These include:
- Cavernous sinus thrombosis
Since the majority of dental abscesses are caused by cavities or periodontal disease, they can be prevented by good oral hygiene. This includes regular brushing, flossing, and avoiding excessive amounts of sugary foods and drinks.
Mountain View Dental is committed to providing you with exceptional dental care in a comfortable and professional environment. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call the office at (385) 238-1085 or visit our website.