What is a Dental Abscess?
An Abscess is a pocket of pus that forms around a tooth or in the gums and is caused by bacteria. This is your immune systems way of preventing infection from spreading further. Abscesses can form quickly, sometimes only one or two days after an infection has started.
Some symptoms of an abscess include:
Sensitivity to hot/ cold foods and liquids
Difficulty swallowing or opening the mouth
Pain in the affected area when biting or when touched
There are two main types of dental abscesses, being periodontal and periapical abscesses. A periodontal abscess is a gum abscess and is typically caused by infection between the tooth and the gum. This may arise after having food trapped in the space between the gum and the tooth. In more severe cases, buildup of plaque can cause bacteria to form under the gum and in the bone. A periapical abscess is a tooth- related abscess which occurs inside the tooth. This happens when the tooth’s nerve is dead or dying. The abscess will form at the tip of the tooth’s root and spread to the surrounding bone if not treated promptly.
There are several options when it comes to treating an abscess, with the main goal being to cure the infection and prevent any further complications. First the dentist will do a thorough check up and take some x rays to determine the severity of the abscess. If possible the dentist will aim to save the tooth.
Treatments may include:
Antibiotics to fight the infection
Root canal treatment
An extraction of the tooth may be necessary in more severe cases when the tooth cannot be saved
Ensuring good oral hygiene techniques such as brushing twice a day and having regular dental checkups are simple ways to prevent dental abscesses. Remember, prevention is always easier than the cure!