An abscessed tooth occurs when bacteria causes an infection in your gums and even inside your teeth. This creates a pocket of pus that is unable to drain, therefore becoming swollen and painful. This is known as an abscess and it acts as a barrier around the infection to stop its spread. However, if left untreated, the bacterial infection can escalate to other parts of the mouth and affect your overall health.

There are two different kinds of abscesses, including:

  • Periodontal abscess — An infection between the tooth and gum usually caused by food getting trapped there and poor cleaning of the teeth to get that food debris out. In severe cases, the bacteria can build up and affect the bone.
  • Periapical abscess — An infection inside the tooth pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue and nerves inside of the root canal, and it can succumb to an infection and begin to die. This type of abscess can also spread to the surrounding bone.

Abscesses can form relatively quickly, usually within one or two days. There will almost always be symptoms, but they may not always be noticeable. Some people may even go for years unaware of an abscessed tooth, which is why you should have regular check-ups with a dentist – you don’t want it to be too late to reverse the damage.

Symptoms to look for:

  • A visible pus-filled bump in the gums
  • Throbbing in and around the teeth
  • Sharp or shooting pain
  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Swelling or redness of gums
  • An open sore on your gums
  • Pressure at the pain point
  • General pain when moving your mouth
  • Aching discomfort in the jaw bone
  • Symptoms outside of the mouth and affecting the rest of the body: fever, swollen neck glands, illness, and an overall uneasy feeling

Problems if an Abscessed Tooth is Left Untreated

Though it might be hard to believe, oral health is generally connected to your overall health. In certain cases, what might have been a small infection in your gums can have serious complications in the rest of your body.

If an abscess is left untreated, what can most likely happen first is that a cyst will form in the jaw bone, requiring the extraction of the tooth surgically. The infection can spread to other parts of the body such as the blood, soft tissues, brain, and heart. Other complications result in fever and pneumonia.

It is highly important that if you suffer from any of the above symptoms, you do not delay seeing a dentist. Some of these problems can be life-threatening and easier to treat when caught early.

How to Treat an Abscessed Tooth

While taking over-the-counter pain medicine may temporarily relieve the symptoms of an abscessed tooth, it is not an alternative to treatment from a professional.

Generally, an abscess is handled by an endodontist who will choose the best treatment for your situation. Their first step may be to drain pus from the abscess by making a small incision.

However, in many cases, this might not be enough and a root canal may be required. A root canal is a procedure to save the tooth by removing the infected pulp inside. They will then clean the inside thoroughly, shape the canal, apply a strengthening filler, and place a crown on it for protection.

In severe cases, there might need to be root surgery or the tooth may need to be removed entirely because it cannot be saved. Only a trained and licensed endodontist is able to choose the right treatment based on your situation that will help restore your teeth to full function!

Contact Our Little Rock Emergency Dentists

To prevent an abscessed tooth, make sure you are cleaning all of the parts of your teeth, including in between them and be sure to schedule dental exams twice a year. A dentist will be able to see problems that you may not, so contact us today to prevent an abscessed tooth from getting worse. Don’ delay – contact Little Rock Family Dental to schedule your appointment today!