Dental health is incredibly important, as what happens in your mouth affects the rest of your body, most notably, your heart. Brushing and flossing are critical elements of keeping your teeth in tip-top shape, as are regular checkups and teeth cleanings. That doesn’t always do it.
It’s possible to incur an oral infection, such as an abscessed tooth, regardless of how well you take care of your teeth. If this is the case, it’s even more crucial that you get to a dentist immediately, as an untended abscessed tooth can lead to a life-threatening infection.
For that reason, it’s essential to know what the causes and symptoms of an abscessed tooth are so you can know when it’s time to schedule an extra appointment.
What is an Abscessed Tooth?
An abscess is a pocket of pus from an infection that can form in various parts of the body. When it occurs inside (or sometimes around/beside) a tooth, it’s called a dental abscess or abscessed tooth. These are noticeable, painful infections that often ache from the point of infection into the ear or neck.
Common Causes of Abscessed Teeth
There are 3 types of abscessed teeth, with each having a different primary cause and a potential method of treatment. These types are:
This abscess appears within the tooth, usually at the tip of the root. Frequently, a periapical abscess is caused when bacteria enter the tooth through a cavity and spread through the pulp, the inner pith of your tooth. The pulp is much softer than the hard, outer coating of enamel. This is due to its composition of a variety of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues, and as such, it’s incredibly easy for a bacterial infection to set up shop.
This abscess appears on the gum next to the tooth’s root and may even spread into the surrounding tissue. If left untreated, it may penetrate to the bone of the jaw. This is most often caused by chronic or untreated gingivitis, although it’s possible to have an abscess crop up after a dental injury.
This is an abscess on or in the gum itself. Almost always, this occurs when a foreign body, such as toothbrush bristles or popcorn husks, embed themselves in the gum for an extended period of time.
Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth
If you have an abscessed tooth, you will know very quickly, as dental infections are frequently accompanied by a sudden and severe pain. Often, this is described as throbbing or radiating pain, and it can extend to your ear, neck, or along your jaw. Additionally, the pay may increase when you lie down.
Other symptoms of an abscessed tooth include:
- pain on jaw movements, especially chewing
- redness and swelling in the gums and face
- sensitive teeth, as well as loose or discolored teeth
- bad breath, often accompanied by a foul taste
- swollen or tender lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
Treatments for a Dental Abscess
Occasionally, an abscess may rupture on its own. If this is the case, you will feel almost instant pain relief as the pus drains and pressure relieves. You will also notice a foul taste from the pus.
However, even if your abscess bursts on its own, it’s recommended to visit your dentist immediately. Addressing the root cause of the abscess is critical to ensure the problem does not persist.
If your abscess doesn’t rupture on its own, your dentist may take one of multiple approaches, depending on the type and severity of the abscess.
Draining the abscess
After the pus is drained, your dentist will clean the area.
If you have a periapical abscess, you may require a root canal, which is a dental procedure to remove the infected pulp from your teeth.
If leaving the tooth is deemed dangerous, your dentist may pull it.
If you have recurring abscesses, a weak immune system, or a spreading infection, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics.
If your abscess is due to a foreign object, your dentist will remove the object and clean the area.
Dental Group of Simi Valley is Here for You!
If you suspect you have a dental abscess or any other dental concern, call the Dental Group of Simi Valley in Simi Valley, CA today. We are here to address your concerns and walk you through every step of the process like our own family.