A dental abscess is a very painful swelling which is filled with a thick liquid that is yellow in color (pus). There are two types of dental abscess, a gum abscess (also known as a periodontal abscess) and a tooth abscess (also known as a periapical abscess).
What causes a dental abscess?
Abscesses can take place when the inside of your mouth is irritated and bacteria enter, further causing an infection. The abscess forms around this infection as a barrier, stopping the infection from spreading.
A gum abscess is generally caused by an infection which is present between the tooth and gum. This may happen as a result of food getting trapped or, in cases of severe periodontal disease, when bacteria build up under the gum and in the bone.
A tooth abscess is seen at the tip of the tooth’s root and occurs when a tooth’s nerve is dead or dying.
How to prevent a dental abscess
Abscesses can be prevented by maintaining good dental health. This includes daily brushing and flossing as well as regular checkups with a dental professional.
Symptoms of Dental Abscess
Symptoms of dental abscess may include:
- a throbbing pain
- a swelling filled with pus
- inflammation of the gums
- teeth that are sensitive to pressure
- a foul taste in the mouth (caused when the pus drains)
The symptoms of tooth or gum abscess
should not be ignored as the infection can last for months or years and will not go away without treatment. If left untreated, the infection can cause damage to the teeth and bone surrounding it, and can also progress to the bloodstream, causing more serious complications.
Dental abscess treatment
If you believe that you are having a tooth or gum abscess, you should make an appointment with a dental professional.
Your doctor will clean the area around the abscess, perform abscess drainage to release trapped pus and treat the infection. At times, a fistula is developed in the mouth through bone and skin which allows pus to drain.
When an infection has started inside the tooth, your dentist will need to make a small hole in the tooth. This allows the tooth abscess to drain. Root canal treatment and a filling or crown will be required following this procedure.
In cases where the abscess has caused damage to the tooth or is particularly large, you may need to have the tooth removed.
If your dental abscess is caused by periodontal disease, the disease will need to be treated to prevent further infection. However, your dentist can drain the abscess to alleviate pain.