What is a Tooth Abscess?

When a bacterial infection leads to the formation of a pocket of pus in the tissues near a tooth, it’s called a tooth abscess or dental abscess. However, if you listen carefully, your doctor or dentist may use a more specific term. That’s because there are different types of tooth abscesses. Each one is slightly different with different symptoms and treatment options.

Common Tooth Abscesses

Gingival Abscess

Gingival abscesses only impact the gum tissue. These gum infections don’t touch the teeth at all. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be painful or dangerous. They usually happen when food or other foreign objects become trapped within the gum tissue. In some cases, rough brushing, an injury, or bleeding below the gum line can be the trigger. A gum abscess can be very painful and it’s important to not let it go untreated.

Symptoms of Gingival Abscess

Whatever the initial cause, problems get worse when a bacterial infection sets in. Pain, sensitivity, redness, and swelling are common symptoms of gingival abscesses. Without treatment, the infection can spread to other areas and damage surrounding structures or endanger the person’s health.

Gingival Abscess Treatment

Treatment involves seeing a dentist who will drain the pus safely. They can also provide medications for pain and infection control.

Periapical Abscess

Periapical abscesses, the most common kind of tooth abscesses, do involve the teeth. In fact, they’re sometimes called by their generic term “tooth abscesses”. This may be because they form at the roots of teeth. How does it happen? Healthy teeth are protected by a sturdy outer layer of enamel. However, their protective shields can be damaged by decay or a physical injury like a crack or chip. If that occurs, bacteria can infect the living tissue inside teeth. Left untreated, tooth infections generally spread down teeth. If it progresses to the point where a pocket of pus forms at the root, the result is a periapical abscess.

Symptoms of Periapical Abscess

Pain, sensitivity, fever, and a foul taste are all common signs of any type of abscess. If the pain abruptly stops, the problem isn’t over. It may indicate that the abscess has ruptured and the infection is spreading.

Periapical Abscess Treatment

With periapical abscesses, treatment often requires antibiotics to clear the infection, anti-inflammatories to treat the pain and inflammation, and dental treatments to deal with the tooth. If the tooth can be saved, a root canal is often needed. If it can’t, an extraction may be necessary.

Periodontal Abscess

Sometimes called gum infections, periodontal abscesses are pockets of infected gum tissue that form alongside the roots of teeth. They’re normally the result of injuries or gum disease. Unfortunately, they create an ideal hiding spot for bacteria and other undesirables that can endanger your oral health.

Symptoms of Periodontal Abscess

With periodontal abscesses, the nearest tooth may be tender, especially to pressure. The surrounding gum tissue may be swollen and red.

Periodontal Abscess Treatment

With periodontal abscesses, treatment begins with clearing away the pus. If the tooth needs care, that also has to be attended to. In addition, steps may be taken to prevent the gums from forming pockets again. Antibiotics and other medications should also be prescribed.

Do You Have a Tooth Abscess?

If any of these symptoms seem familiar to you, it’s important to see a dentist. With any type of tooth abscess, it’s vital to clear the infection, address your pain, and prevent future issues. At Wekiva Dental, we understand that learning about the different types of tooth abscesses can help you know what to expect so that you feel more comfortable as you undergo treatment. Our friendly, knowledgeable team is ready to help you with your oral healthcare needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.