One of the primary goals of several various areas of dental care is the reduction and elimination of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria are the cause of several significant dental issues, from cavities to tooth decay and several others as well. At the offices of Scott W. Grant, DMD Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we can help you and the entire family control bacteria in the mouth. One significant bacteria-related tooth issue is called an abscess, or abscessed tooth – what is this, and why might it form? Let’s go over this general condition, the types and symptoms to watch for, and the treatments – possibly including a root canal – that can help with it.
Basics and Types
When bacteria is able to cause an infection in the gums and teeth, it can create a pus pocket that swells up and won’t drain. This is called the abscess, which creates a barrier around the infection – this barrier stops the infection from spreading, but this will only last for so long. With enough time, the infection can spread to other parts of the mouth and even to other parts of the body. There are two primary types of abscesses in the mouth:
- Periodontal abscess: An infection located between a tooth and the gum. In most cases, periodontal abscesses are caused by food that’s trapped in this section of the mouth, plus is not properly removed by brushing and flossing. If this is left untreated, it can even affect the bone structure.
- Periapical abscess: This is an infection actually inside the pulp of the tooth, which can begin to die over time if it isn’t treated. This type can also spread to surrounding bone in some cases.
Abscesses are known to form in a hurry – within two or three days in some cases. As we’ve noted here, they can have a significant effect on overall health due to infection spreading. Cysts can form in the jawbone, requiring surgical removal, and infection may spread to soft tissues, the brain and the heart. It’s very important that you see a dentist if you note any symptoms, which we’ll get to next.
Symptoms to Watch For
Symptoms of abscessed teeth include:
- Pus-filled bumps visible in the gums
- Throbbing, sharp or shooting pain
- Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Major sensitivity to extreme temperatures
- Open sores on the gums
- Pressure on the area
- Aches in the jawbone
- Non-mouth symptoms: Fever, illness, swollen neck glands
Abscessed teeth should be treated by dental professionals, though you can take over-the-counter pain medication to limit you pain symptoms while you arrange this treatment. There are some cases where draining pus from the abscess using a small incision will be enough to correct the issue, but in others a root canal might be needed to remove the infected pulp and protect the tooth. For the most severe cases that have been allowed to spread, root surgery or full tooth removal might be needed if the tooth cannot be saved. For more on identifying and treating abscessed teeth, or to learn about any of our family dentist services, speak to the staff at the offices of Scott W. Grant, DMD Family and Cosmetic Dentistry today.