Tooth abscess, which is also known as Periapical abscess or Dental abscess, is a painful infection occurring at the tip of the root of a tooth, it also occurs in between the gum and a tooth. This infection mainly occurs due to deep caries where the infection spreads from the infected carious lesion to the roots. Other causes of tooth abscess are trauma to the tooth, where excess pressure is applied on the tooth or sometimes due to gum disease.
In a periapical infection the bacteria from the infected pulp travels to the roots, and cause seepage of the infection from the roots to the underlying alveolar bone. The infection may also spread to the adjacent neighboring tooth.
Symptoms of Tooth Abscess
Toothaches that are severe and continuous and results in gnawing or throbbing pain or sharp or shooting pain are common symptoms of an abscessed tooth. Other symptoms may include:
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Swollen neck glands
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- Redness and swelling of the gums
- Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw
- An open, draining sore on the side of the gum
If the tooth devitalized as a result of chronic infection, the pain disappears without any medication. This is because the pulp dies resulting in damage of blood vessels and nerve supply to it. However, this doesn’t mean the infection has healed; the infection remains active and continues to spread and destroy tissues and alveolar bone. Therefore, if you experience any of these symptoms it’s better to get init above listed symptoms, it is better to get treatment by a dentist even if the pain subsides.
Diagnostics of Tooth Abscess
Your dentist will initially examine the teeth with a periodontal probe to check for infection and pain. If you have an abscessed tooth, you will feel pain when the tooth is tapped by a probe or even moves on checking with a probe, it can move in direct directions depending on the severity. If your pain increases when you chew food or bite or close your mouth tightly, then it is a diagnosis of periapical abscess. In addition, your dentist may suspect an abscessed tooth because your gums may be swollen and red.
Your dentist may also take X-rays to look for erosion of the bone around the abscess and check for opalescent lesions around the tooth that indicate pus.
Treatment of Tooth Abscess
The main aim of treatment of an abscess is to eliminate the infection, preserve the tooth, and prevent further complications, and also to improve the overall health of the tooth.
In order to eliminate infection, the abscess or the pus has to get drained; it can be drained by doing root canal treatment where the infected dead pulp tissues are removed along with the bacteria and debris. The tooth is left open, allowing the pus to drain completely. After the canals dry, a permanent gutta percha filling is done and the tooth is covered by a crown.
If the infection is too severe, where the tooth becomes mobile and the mobility doesn’t stop after root canal, in such case the tooth is extracted, allowing drainage through the socket.
Finally, if this doesn’t work then, the abscess would be giving an incision into the swollen gum tissue after a local anesthesia is given.
Antibiotics are prescribed to help fight the infection, sometimes antibiotics are given after extraction or during root canal treatment. To relieve the pain and discomfort associated with an abscessed tooth, warm salt-water rinses give a good soothing and relaxation to the tooth. Pain killers like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) can be used to reduce pain.
Prevention of Abscessed Tooth
Following good oral hygiene practices can reduce the risk of developing a tooth abscess. Even if your teeth experience trauma from accidents seek dental attention as soon as possible. In order to prevent tooth abscess you should:
- Have a good dental hygiene
- Brushing teeth
- Use antiseptic mouthwash
- Make dental checkups
- Make prompt treatment of tooth decay
- Have low-sugar diet
If you follow all these methods then you can prevent formation of an abscess.