While some things like plaque buildup and gingivitis can often be ignored for a period of time, if you have ever experienced a tooth or gum abscess, chances are this could not be ignored. Usually extremely painful, a tooth or gum abscess is a serious condition that can lead to various complications if not treated. When bacteria enters your mouth, it can lead to an infection. The infection often causes painful swelling and inflammation and fills with pus, thus creating an abscess.
What is it?
A tooth abscess, also called a periapical abscess, occurs when bacteria enters the dental pulp—the innermost part of the tooth—and causes an infection in the tooth. Tooth abscesses often occur when a cavity goes untreated or if an injury causes a crack in the tooth that allows bacteria to enter into the root. It is common for the infection to cause swelling at the tip of the root and can quickly spread to the surrounding area.
A gum abscess is also known as a periodontal abscess and is caused by an infection in the space between the tooth and gum. Infection in the gums is usually the result of plaque buildup under the gums. When plaque isn’t removed from the teeth by good dental hygiene practices, infection can occur. A gum abscess will cause swelling and redness around the infected gum.
What are the symptoms?
In addition to painful swelling and inflammation, there are other symptoms that may occur if you have a tooth or gum abscess. Because of the dying nerves, it is likely that you will experience extreme sensitivity to very hot or very cold foods and drinks, as well as pain while chewing. If you taste something bad in your mouth and then experience some temporary pain relief, this could be from the abscess rupturing, another sure sign that you have an abscess that needs to be treated. In severe cases, the infection could even cause you to run a fever.
How is it treated?
Tooth and gum abscesses will not go away on their own and must be treated by a dentist as soon as possible in order to avoid further damage around the surrounding bone and teeth. In order to treat a tooth or gum abscess, your dentist will drain the abscess and clean the surrounding area of any remaining plaque and tartar. Draining the abscess will ensure that the area is free from infection and will prevent further complications. In some cases, when the pulp of the tooth is affected, a root canal is required in order to remove the damaged part of the tooth. In addition to these dental procedures, your dentist may prescribe a course of antibiotics in order to help your mouth heal and prevent the infection from spreading.
If you think you may have a tooth or gum abscess, please make an appointment with us at Cornerstone Family Dentistry today!