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How You Can Tell You May Have an Abscessed Tooth


Posted on 5/25/2017 by Dr. Kelsey Ullsmith
A woman suffering from a dental abscess.
Healthy teeth and gums require daily brushing and flossing. Ignoring oral hygiene can lead to rather significant issues, including tooth decay and gum disease. You are also putting yourself at risk for an abscess.

What is an Abscess?


A dental abscess is an infection inside of your tooth. Bacteria enter your tooth and infect the pulp. As the bacteria grow and the infection spreads, it often spills out of the root into the bone. Your body creates a sac around the infection, in an attempt to contain it.

This barrier can hold for a while, but ultimately, untreated, the bacteria could escape and cause serious health complications, such as:

•  Infections in the jawbone.
•  Tooth loss.
•  Sinus infections.
•  Septicemia.
•  Brain abscess.

Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth


A severe toothache that is severe, along with throbbing and/or sharp pains are the most common symptoms of an abscessed tooth. Other symptoms include:

•  Pain while chewing.
•  Sensitivity.
•  Bitter taste in your mouth.
•  Chronic bad breath that doesn't get better even with brushing and mouthwash.
•  Red, swollen gums.
•  Fever.
•  General feeling of illness.
•  You may even see an open, draining sore on the side of your gums.

In some instances, you may experience some of these symptoms, but then the pain goes away. This is often due to the infection killing the pulp and root of the tooth. This does not mean the infection is gone. Therefore, even if your toothache seems to disappear on its own, you should still seek dental help.

Diagnosis and Treatment


Your dentist will be able to diagnose an abscess with a thorough oral exam and X-rays. If an abscess is found, your dentist will then take steps to treat it. First, the infection must be eliminated.

This is often achieved by a root canal, an endodontic procedure that involves removing the interior (thereby the infection) of the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting it, filling it and placing a crown. In more severe cases, the tooth may require extraction, but a root canal is the preferred treatment method.

Ignoring a dental abscess could lead to serious health consequences, including septicemia or a brain abscess. Don't write off a toothache as something minor, especially if you are experiencing severe pain. Contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment.

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