What Is A Tooth Abscess, And How Do I Know If I Have One?

Got a toothache? Suffering from issues like inflammation around a particular tooth, or sensitivity to heat and cold? You may have a dental abscess, which can be a serious dental condition. Read on to learn more about this condition, how to recognize it, and how you can get treatment from an oral professional to relieve your pain and discomfort, and save your abscessed tooth.

Understanding What A Tooth Abscess Is

A tooth abscess is a pocket of infected pus around a tooth root, which is caused by a bacterial infection.

There are two primary types of tooth abscess:

  • Periapical abscess – This type of abscess is the most common. It occurs inside your tooth, often at the tip of the root. When the enamel of the tooth is damaged or decayed, the interior pulp can be exposed to oral bacteria, and become infected. This results in a periapical abscess. This condition is usually caused by an untreated dental cavity, an injury to the tooth, or failing dental work.
  • Periodontal (gum) abscess – This type of abscess is more rare, and occurs in the gums at the side of a tooth root. It is usually caused by uncontrolled gum disease (periodontitis) and may look like a small, red bump that is inflamed and can be tender or painful.

Both types of abscess can cause serious pain and discomfort, and damage your teeth permanently if left untreated.

What Are The Signs Of An Abscessed Tooth?

The most common signs of a periapical abscess include:

  • Pain and discomfort around the tooth
  • Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Sensitivity to pressure and chewing
  • Swelling and inflammation around the affected tooth

The signs of a periodontal abscess are slightly different, and usually include:

  • A visible red bump at the site of the infection
  • Throbbing pain in nearby teeth
  • A bad taste in your mouth from purulent (pus) discharge
  • Fever

How Can I Treat My Tooth Abscess?

Periapical abscesses are typically treated with root canal therapy. A root canal involves opening up a small hole in your tooth, removing decayed/infected pulp material, and then sanitizing and filling the tooth to prevent further damage.

Periodontal abscesses are usually treated by lancing the abscess to eliminate the pocket of pus, and draining the infection. Then, antibiotics can be used to eliminate the infection. Advanced periodontal abscesses may require oral surgery to repair the damage done by the infection.

Get Help For A Tooth Abscess Right Away!

No matter what type of abscess you have, you need to get care immediately to preserve your teeth and gums, keep your mouth healthy, and get relief from your pain and discomfort. Don’t wait. Abscesses are a dental emergency, so see your dentist or oral surgeon for an appointment right away.