A tooth abscess is an infection that occurs in or around the root of a tooth. The condition appears more commonly in people with poor dental care, though it can happen to anyone. A tooth abscess typically happens due to untreated tooth decay, but it can also develop as the result of a crack or chip in your tooth.
While the initial stages of a tooth abscess can occur without symptoms, the condition causes intense pain and mouth pressure as it advances. Like any infection, a tooth abscess is a reason to seek immediate assessment and treatment.
You don’t have to visit an emergency room to get urgent and immediate dental care. Dentists George Kontoveros, DMD, and Anthony Klobas, DMD, of 2K Dental, provide professional emergency dentistry services for urgent oral conditions, including tooth abscesses, chipped or broken teeth, and tooth loss.
The team at 2K Dental has the knowledge and experience necessary to diagnose your condition and get you the treatment you need as quickly as possible. In many cases, treating a tooth abscess can be the difference between losing and saving a tooth.
How a tooth abscess occurs
An abscess is a swollen area of pus that develops at the site of an infection. A tooth abscess typically forms underneath or around the gums of the affected tooth.
The underlying infection usually starts as a case of untreated decay, injury, or a leak from damaged dental work. It can also begin in a crack or break in a tooth.
The first stage of a tooth abscess involves damage to the tooth enamel, the exterior layer of the tooth. You may notice increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, though many people don’t experience symptoms.
As the condition progresses, it damages the dentin, the layer beneath the enamel. A visible cavity or hole may develop.
When the bacteria move deeper into the tooth, it attacks the tooth pulp, which contains the tooth’s nerve. This may trigger the first signs of severe pain.
In the later stages of a tooth abscess, a collection of pus develops after the bacteria attack the tooth pulp or travel deeper into the jawbone or gums. Pain, swelling, gum redness, and fever may occur.
Types of tooth abscess
There are three main types of tooth abscess: periodontal, gingival, and periapical. They differ by the cause and location of the infection and symptoms.
Periodontal abscess occurs between the tooth and gum. It typically develops due to gum disease or an injury to the tooth.
Gingival abscess develops when a foreign body, like a piece of food, gets stuck in your gums.
Periapical abscess occurs when bacteria attack a tooth’s pulp through a cavity or other type of hole or break in the tooth.
Signs of a tooth abscess
All ttooth abscesses can have similar signs and pose a risk of permanent damage or tooth loss if left untreated. The faster you seek treatment, the better your chances of saving the affected tooth and stopping the spread of infection to other areas of your body.
Symptoms can vary by location, based on the tooth abscess you have. Generally, the pain and physical symptoms associated with a tooth abscess are more intense than a typical toothache.
Call one of our offices for an emergency dental appointment to get a professional examination if you’re experiencing any of the following signs of a tooth abscess:
- A persistent, intense, and throbbing toothache
- Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold
- A swollen cheek on the side of the affected tooth
- Inflamed and irritated gums
- Pain when opening your mouth or chewing
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes around your neck and jaw
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
Treatment of a tooth abscess
The first step in treating a tooth abscess involves treating the infection. The abscess is usually cut and drained of the bacteria inside. An oral antibiotic may also be prescribed to eradicate the bacteria.
Depending on the location and degree of damage caused by the tooth abscess, your tooth may need to be removed. An artificial replacement tooth, such as a dental implant, can restore normal appearance and function after the infection site heals.
If the abscess is treated during the early stages, the tooth may be salvageable with a root canal treatment. Root canal therapy involves cleaning dead or diseased pulp from the root canal and filling the empty canal to seal it.
Don’t delay if you’re experiencing symptoms of a tooth abscess. Early treatment can improve your chances of saving an infected tooth. For emergency care, call our office in Parma, Akron, or Cleveland, Ohio, today to arrange a consultation.