Ann Clark RDH
What is an ABSCESS all about anyway?
An abscess is an infection at the tooth’s root. It usually comes with discomfort or pain and can also be found between the gum and the tooth. The most common cause is severe tooth decay but it can also be related to trauma, like a broken tooth or to gum disease. These problems cause openings in the tooth enamel allowing bacterias to travel inward to the pulp (nerve canal) and infect it. This infection can also spread from the root to the supporting bone structure holding in the tooth.
What are the symptoms?
– a continuous severe toothache causing throbbing or sharp pain
-bitter taste in the mouth
-a smell to your breath
-swollen neck glands
-general discomfort. uneasiness or ill feeling
-redness and swelling of gums
-swelling to your face
-a draining sore on your gums
If the pain stops, the pulp (nerves) has died off from infection but the infection remains active and continues to spread and destroy tissue. Visiting your Dentist is always advised with the above symptoms even if pain subsides.
How is an abscess diagnosed?
Your dentists checks and probes the area looking for swollen, red tissue or draining sites as well as examining X-rays. He may tap the tooth of check to see if it reacts to temperatures and also check biting pressure.
How is an abscess treated?
Our goal is to eliminate infection, preserve the tooth and prevent complications. The tooth may need to be drained which is achieved through root canal therapy. Root surgery can be recommended if we need to remove diseased tooth tissue after the infection is cleared. A crown may be placed over the tooth to provide needed strength. A tooth may also need to be extracted which allows for the draining to take place through the socket. Finally, a third option to drain the tooth would be through an incision into the swollen tissue. Antibiotics are prescribed to fight the infection. To relieve pain and discomfort, warm salt water rinses and OTC meds like ibuprofen (advil/motrin) can be used.
How do you Prevent an abscess?
Good home care habits and regular check up with X-rays reduce your risk. If you experience tooth trauma please seek prompt attention.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
WEBMD- Columbia University College of Dental Medicine:”Abscess”
Medline Plus: “Tooth abscess”
Emedicine health: “Dental Abscess”