Identifying a dental abscess

An infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth is called a tooth abscess. Inflamed tissue can quickly create a pocket that fills with puss inside the mouth or throat. Bacteria from the pus can then find their way into the cracks and chips in a tooth that can then result in tooth decay and erosion.

Abscesses can form as quickly as 1 or 2 days after the start of an infection.

Symptoms of a Tooth Infection

The pain associated with a dental abscess makes it extremely difficult for an abscess to go undetected. A severe and continuous toothache is a common symptom, along with sharp shooting pains and constant throbbing in the infected area.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Severe, persistent pain that can radiate into the face, neck, or ears
  • Swelling in the face or cheek
  • Throbbing pain in the jaw, neck, or tooth
  • Fever
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Pain when chewing
  • Redness or swelling of the gum tissue
  • A bitter taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • A sudden rush of foul-tasting, salty liquid in the mouth if the abscess ruptures

How Do Tooth Infections Develop?

Once the bacteria have entered the soft tissue of a tooth, a periapical abscess can start to develop. An infection can quickly spread to the jaw and other areas of the head and neck. The two types of dental abscesses are:

Periodontal Abscess

A periodontal abscess (also called a gum abscess) is a result of an infection in the space between the tooth and gum tissue. Food and debris can get caught between the gum and the tooth, leading to an infection. Severe periodontal disease occurs when bacteria build up in the bone under the gum tissue.

Periapical Abscess

A periapical abscess happens inside the tooth and is commonly referred to as a tooth-related abscess. This type of infection occurs when a tooth’s nerve is dead or dying. The infection starts at the tip of the tooth’s root and then spreads to the surrounding bone.

Even after an abscess ruptures and the pain has subsided, dental treatment is still necessary. Only a trained professional can perform the treatment essential for restoring your tooth to ultimate oral health.

Finding Treatment and Relief

Based on the state of the abscess, your dentist may recommend different treatments, including:

  • Draining the abscess if it has not yet ruptured
  • Prescribing antibiotics to fight the infection internally
  • Cleaning the area between the teeth and gums when periodontal disease is involved
  • Performing a root canal procedure if the infection has affected the inner chamber of the tooth
  • Extracting the tooth when it can no longer be saved with any of the other recommended treatments

How To Avoid Future Infections

When it comes to dentistry, prevention is always essential. There are simple measures that you can take to keep a dental abscess from developing in the future.

Brush and Floss Regularly

Committing to an excellent oral hygiene regimen is extremely important for preventing dental abscesses and other oral health issues. Brushing your teeth and flossing daily will help to protect yourself from cavities and periodontal disease regularly.

Eating a Well-Balanced Diet

Eating healthy has many benefits to your body, including your oral health. Limiting your intake of sugary and acidic foods will help to lower your risk of developing tooth decay.

Seeing Your Dentist Regularly 

Professional dental cleanings and exams will give your teeth the preventative care they need. If it’s been a while since you have had your teeth cleaned and examined, call Hoffman Dental Care today to schedule an appointment!