What a Tooth Abscess is and Why it Needs Urgent Dental Care

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Tooth abscesses are a leading cause of dental emergencies. If left untreated they can have serious effects on not only your oral health but overall health too. A tooth abscess usually occurs as a result of untreated tooth decay or damage. There are 3 types of dental abscesses which we will discuss later on. When left untreated a tooth abscess may lead to tooth loss. It is important to understand the warning signs and symptoms to give your tooth the best chance of survival and protect your oral health. 

At Boon Dental we use the latest techniques in treating tooth abscesses. Our dentists are highly trained and your comfort is our number one priority.

What is a Tooth Abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus that builds up due to infection. A dental abscess can appear in different places in your mouth and are classified in 3 ways;

  • Gingival abscess – this type appears only on the gum and does not affect the tooth itself. It usually appears as a pimple-like spot and can be treated easily if caught early. 
  • Periodontal abscess – this type occurs deep in the gum, affecting the tissues supporting the bone. It must be treated quickly as it can easily spread further and cause significant damage.
  • Periapical abscess – this abscess occurs in the innermost layer of the tooth known as the pulp. This type may be very painful as the pulp contains all the teeth’s nerves. 

It’s important to contact your dentist if you think you may have a tooth abscess. If left untreated it can affect your jawbone, surrounding tissues and even lead to tooth loss. Some symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Pus
  • Pimple-looking spot on your gum
  • Swollen gums and/or face
  • Red, sore gums
  • A foul taste and/or smell in your mouth
  • Fever, nausea, vomiting 
  • Sensitivity to temperature (more and longer-lasting than usual)
  • Swollen glands in your jaw and neck
  • Difficulty swallowing or opening your mouth

Common Causes of Tooth Abscesses

There are different causes for each type of abscess:

  • Gingival – this usually occurs from a foreign body, such as a little bit of food, getting stuck in your gum. 
  • Periodontal – usually occurs from gum disease or injury.
  • Periapical – occurs when bacteria enter the tooth through a cavity or crack. If left untreated this bacteria will reach the pulp and become infected. 

While each type varies the most common way of preventing them is with good oral hygiene. Keeping up with brushing twice a day, flossing daily and regular trips to the dentist is your best defence. Consuming a high sugary diet can also lead to an abscess, so try to limit sugar intake. Sometimes they are unavoidable due to injury or age.

Treatment Options

While some treatments can seem quite drastic, others are simpler and still effective. It all depends on the type of abscess and how quickly you catch it. 

Draining the Abscess

This is a relatively quick and easy procedure. Your dentist will make a small incision in the abscess and drain the pus. They will then sanitise it with a saline solution. 

Root Canal Treatment

This is often associated with pain and fear however if done properly it should be no more uncomfortable than having a cavity filled. Your dentist will drain the abscess which includes removing the infected pulp. Your tooth will then be sealed and possibly finished off with a crown. 

Tooth Extraction

Unfortunately, sometimes an abscess may lead to tooth loss. If you have left the abscess untreated for too long your dentist may have no choice but to remove the infected tooth. They will then drain the abscess. Of course, there are cosmetic options to restore your smile. 

Periodontal Surgery

If the infection is recurring, then your dentist may suggest surgery. This will be done by an oral surgeon; they will remove the diseased gum and reshape it. This should hopefully prevent the infection from coming back. 

How Boon Dental can Help

A tooth abscess can be very painful and cause serious damage. It is important to contact your dentist immediately if you think you may have one. 
At Boon Dental we offer 24/7 emergency dental care for your peace of mind. Our facilities are well resourced and our dentists highly trained, so we can deal with any dental emergency you may have. Give us a call to find out more.