An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth. When you have tooth decay or gum disease, you can get infection deep within the tooth or gum. This infection is an abscessed tooth and can be very painful.
Alternative names of tooth abscess are periapical abscess, dental abscess, tooth infection, abscess – tooth.
Tooth Abscess Causes
The dental pulp, the only part of the tooth that’s sensitive to pain, is often well protected. The outer layers of the tooth – enamel, and dentin, the main part of the tooth – surround the fleshy, nerve-filled center. But if a tooth cracks or develops a deep cavity, the pulp can be exposed.
Before long, bacteria will invade the center of the tooth and the pulp will start to die. As the tooth infection progresses, pockets of pus will form at the root of the tooth. This is called tooth abscess.
Sometimes a tooth abscess is excruciatingly painful and/or swollen, and at other times a patient will not even know it exists until he or she has a routine exam and/or x-ray.
Tooth Abscess Symptoms
- Toothache, dental pain
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath, breath odor
- Possible fever
- Swollen glands of the neck
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw – a very serious symptom
Tooth Abscess Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis can and does occur and is reasonably common with error rates ranging from 1.4% in cancer biopsies to a high 20-40% misdiagnosis rate in emergency or ICU care. Surveys of patients also indicate the chance of experiencing a misdiagnosis to range from 8% to 40%. This makes misdiagnosis one of the most common types of medical mistakes.
With a tooth abscess diagnosis, it is important to consider whether there is an underlying condition causing tooth abscess. These are other medical conditions that may possibly cause tooth abscess. Other conditions that might have Tooth abscess as a complication might be potential underlying conditions.
Tooth abscess misdiagnosis need not be a feared outcome. There are various ways to prevent tooth abscess misdiagnosis such as seeking a second opinion or a dental specialist referral. Getting educated about the possible alternative or underlying diagnoses for a condition is useful information to discuss with your dentist.
Read NEXT about abscessed tooth complications and dangers.