An abscess is a bacteria-infected lesion characterized by the accumulation of pus within the affected tissue. When our teeth or gums are suffering some damage, and we do not pay attention, we should solve it promptly; a consequence can be infection and accumulation of pus from the tissues related to the tooth, thus forming what we know as a dental abscess. This can cause symptoms such as throbbing pain and pressure, fever, swollen neck glands, and bad taste in the mouth. To avoid severe complications, it is essential to visit the dentist as soon as possible to cure the infection completely and restore the affected tooth as much as possible if you want to get more details about this condition, symptoms, and treatment of a tooth abscess.
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Causes of tooth abscess
The dental abscess can have different origins, and depending on the tissue that it affects; it will be given one name or another to describe it. In most cases, the affected tooth has advanced decay that causes extensive destruction of the tissues and compromises the pulp of the tooth, that is, the component that gives life to the tooth. If an early solution is not given to this and the lesion continues to advance, the pulp tissue dies and spreads bacteria through the end of the root (apex) and a cluster of said bacteria, producing what we know as a periapical abscess.
In other situations, the infection has its origin at the gum level due to a deposit of bacterial plaque on the surface of the teeth, which produces the formation of vast empty spaces between the gum and the tooth, known as periodontal pockets. When these pockets fill with bacteria, they can become infected, producing a gingival or periodontal abscess, depending on their depth. Other cases in which the formation of spots in the gum can occur are the presence of foreign bodies or the packaging of food in the space between the gum and the tooth.
A pervasive case of dental abscesses is related to the eruption process of the third molars (wisdom teeth or wisdom teeth). Space is usually formed between the gum and the tooth during this process, similar to that of a periodontal pocket. In this process, bacteria proliferate, causing inflammation and infection of the tissue. This process is known as pericoronitis, one of the most common causes of pain related to third molars.
Symptoms of tooth abscess
Among the main symptoms of dental abscess is pain, which is caused by the irritation caused by the infectious process on the tissues it affects and the inflammation that accompanies the infection. This pain, in general, appears mainly during chewing, although it can also be spontaneous, and in cases of periodontal abscesses, it is frequent that there is a pain when in contact with hot or cold food.
A bad taste can be felt due to the leakage of pus from the tissues into the mouth, especially in cases of pericoronitis and periodontal abscesses, and this leakage of pus may be accompanied by blood.
Due to inflammation, the gum becomes enlarged and red. When a periodontal abscess has advanced enough, it can destroy the bone that supports the tooth, so it begins to have mobility.
In periapical abscess, when the infection has been present for a long time, it begins to destroy the bone until it reaches the gum, forming a red lump through which pus escapes. This path from the infection to the gum is called a “fistula,” and its appearance is related to a momentary relief of pain.
Complications of dental abscess
When the abscess is not controlled, the affected person may develop a fever and swollen glands.
In the most severe cases, the infection can spread to other regions through the muscle fibers or cause inflammation of a wide area of the face, producing cervicofacial cellulitis. A scarce situation is the spread of infection through the blood and causing infection of other tissues (sepsis).
Treatment of dental abscess
It is essential to mention that no abscess of dental origin is cured solely by the use of antibiotics (even though this helps to control it) since it is always necessary to produce the drainage of the pus accumulation and eliminate the agent that caused the appearance of the infection in the first place. This is done in different ways depending on the type of abscess the person has:
- Periapical abscesses: The tooth must have a procedure called endodontic treatment, also known as root canal treatment. This procedure is carried out by a specialist endodontic dentist and consists of removing dead tissue and infection along the root and bone with the help of antiseptic drugs and substances. Once the canals and bone have been disinfected, the endodontist seals the entrance to the channel to prevent reinfection.
- Periodontal abscesses: You should see a periodontic specialist. Treatment consists of draining the infection and then a procedure called scaling and root planing, which involves removing plaque and calculus from the roots of the affected tooth, and creating a suitable surface for gum recovery.
- Treatment for pericoronitis: is carried out by an oral surgeon. This condition is generally a criterion for choosing wisdom teeth removal. While a procedure can remove inflamed tissue called an operculectomy, wisdom tooth removal is the only definitive treatment for pericoronitis.
- However, when a tooth affected by an abscess has too extensive destruction of its structure or the bone that surrounds it, and the chances of recovery are few or none, it is necessary to extract it to drain the infection.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.