When a bacterial infection leads to the formation of a pocket of pus, the result is a tooth abscess. Normally an abscess appears on the gum, but you can also develop a tooth abscess. A tooth abscess may be small and painful, but it’s nothing to ignore. Left untreated, a dental abscess can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of Abscessed Teeth

People who are hurting often sort through the potential causes of a toothache to identify the culprit.

What does a dental abscess feel like?

Generally, people who develop abscesses report throbbing pain that is moderate to severe. It comes on suddenly and gets worse.

  • It may radiate towards your ear, neck or jaw.
  • It may get worse when you lay down.
  • You may notice facial tenderness or swelling or swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
  • There may be pain when chewing or sensitive teeth.
  • You may have a foul taste in your mouth or struggle with bad breath.
  • Fevers are also common.

What if the pain abruptly stops? That’s a sign that the tooth abscess has ruptured. That can be dangerous because the infection can spread.

Types of Abscessed Teeth and Their Causes

A dental abscess is identified by its location:

  • Gingival abscess: This type of abscess is found on the gums. It’s generally the result of a foreign body somehow becoming embedded in your gum tissue.
  • Periapical abscess: This abscess forms at the very end of a tooth’s root. It typically occurs when bacteria sneaks into the tooth’s vulnerable inner pulp through a cavity.
  • Periodontal abscess: This abscess develops on the gum alongside the tooth’s root. It’s normally triggered by either gum disease or injury.

Urgent Treatment for Tooth Abscesses

An abscess is a dental emergency. An untreated abscess can be dangerous because the infection can spread to other areas of the body. If you think that you might have one, don’t wait. Call your dentist immediately. In fact, if you are running a fever and having trouble swallowing, call your dentist. You may be advised to go to the emergency room.

How to Treat a Tooth Abscess

The primary goal of treatment is clearing the infection. There are several options that your dentist might recommend, depending on your situation:

  • Draining the tooth abscess: The dentist makes a small incision to open the pocket and allow the pus to drain out. If needed, the area may be rinsed with saline.
  • Prescribing antibiotics: A serious infection can counteract the effect of local anesthetics. This makes it hard to numb the area and drain an abscess. It is common with a wisdom tooth abscess, which involves the third molar. In this situation, the dentist may write a prescription for antibiotics to get the infection under control first before proceeding with any dental care.
  • Performing an extraction: If the infected tooth is unsalvageable, extracting it may be the best option.
  • Completing a root canal: If the pulp is badly damaged, removing it with a root canal may be the only way to save the tooth. After the infection is cleared, a crown can be placed to restore the tooth’s integrity.

If you’re concerned about a possible dental abscess, schedule a dental appointment, Wekiva Dental is ready to help you with all your oral health care needs. Contact us today at 407-869-7333.