The Unseen Dangers Of A Dental Abscess 

An infected tooth can be extremely painful, which can impair your routine activities. Pain can be debilitating and needs prompt treatment, for which you must know the cause first. 

Dental abscess is the most common cause of tooth infection that does not heal on its own and requires treatment by a dental professional. 

What is a dental abscess (infected tooth)?

A dental abscess is an abnormal collection of pus formed due to bacterial colonization in your gums. An abscess looks like a red, swollen, painful boil or a lump. The infection can spread to the surrounding bone and neighboring teeth. 

Three types of infection can cause an abscess, namely:

  • Gingival: Infection develops in your gums 
  • Periapical: Infection that develops at the tip of the tooth root
  • Periodontal abscess: Infection spreads to the bone and tissues that support the tooth.

What are the contributing factors that lead to dental abscess?

The following factors can favor the growth of bacteria that cause a dental abscess:

  • Severe dental caries with large cavities
  • Broken, cracked, or fractured teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth injury

You are more susceptible to dental abscess if you:

  • Smoke
  • Suffer from xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Have poor oral hygiene
  • Have a compromised immune system as seen in diabetes

What are the symptoms of a dental abscess?

A dental abscess symptoms include the following:

  • Severe, excruciating pain 
  • Pain may radiate to your jawbone, ear, or neck
  • Pain can be continuous or occur while biting or chewing
  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Gum tenderness or swelling 
  • Loosening of the affected tooth
  • Open, draining sore on the side of your gums 
  • High-grade fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

How is a dental abscess diagnosed?

A tooth abscess can be diagnosed through symptom evaluation and physical examination of the affected tooth. 

Additional diagnostic tools include:

  • Dental X-ray to check the involvement of bone and the adjacent teeth
  • Tapping method: The affected tooth is tapped with a dental probe to check the presence of sensitivity to pressure
  • Thermal tests to determine the health of the pulp 

How do you treat a dental abscess?

The main aim of treating an abscess is to eliminate infection and provide pain relief. 

  • Antibiotics: To get rid of the infection
  • Painkillers: To reduce pain and discomfort 
  • Incision and drainage: Making an incision (cut) in the abscess to drain the pus. 
  • Root canal therapy: Removal of tooth pulp and sealing it with a biocompatible material 
  • Tooth extraction: Removal of the tooth when the infection is beyond repair. 

A dental abscess caused due to an infected tooth is extremely painful. Thus, it is essential to seek help from a dentist to get the care you need. 

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