Tooth Talk: What is an Abscessed Tooth?

Is your mouth throbbing and you have a toothache that won’t go away? If the pain is becoming unbearable and you even see swelling in the affected area, then you might be dealing with an abscessed tooth.

Not only is a tooth abscess quite painful, it can be a serious health concern when left untreated. If you think that you have an infection, then it’s critical to seek dental care as soon as possible. You can ask the dentist: what is an abscessed tooth? And also get more information about the ideal treatment plan to alleviate your pain and restore your dental health once again.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about what is an abscess tooth. In addition to identifying the symptoms if you are dealing with this condition, it’s just as important to make sure that you get the best dental treatment as soon as possible.

What is an Abscessed Tooth?

When you have an abscessed tooth, it means that there is an infection inside your mouth. Usually, the infection starts at the root of the tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Bacteria starts to take over the area, and the body’s immune response kicks in as an attempt to fight the infection. As a result, a pocket of pus starts to form.

When the infection reaches the point where an abscess forms, then dental or medical intervention is necessary. The fact that this pocket of infection is present means that your immune system is not successful in fighting the infection. If the infection is left untreated, then it will start spreading to the surrounding tissues and teeth. Eventually, it can move into the bloodstream and cause systemic health problems.

There are two different types of dental abscesses:

  • Periapical Abscess: This type of tooth abscess forms at the root of the tooth. It is usually located at the tip – the end that is the deepest point within your gums.
  • Periodontal Abscess: If you have this type of abscess, then it is an infection that forms in the gums located next to the tooth’s root.

Regardless of the location, you need to visit a dentist to clear up the infection and prevent more serious complications.

The Most Common Causes of Tooth Abscesses

Why are you experiencing a tooth abscess? While the presence of bacteria is the reason why the infection developed and is growing, there are often underlying causes that allow the bacteria to access the root of the tooth.

Some of the most common causes of tooth abscesses include:

  • Tooth Decay: The protective enamel on the tooth has been damaged by cavities because of bacteria in the mouth. As the cavity progresses, it moves from the surface of the tooth into the deeper areas of the tooth. If this infection reaches the inner part where the blood vessels and nerves are located (known as the pulp), then it can result in a serious toothache and abscess.
  • Gum Disease: As gum disease progresses, it causes the gums to start pulling away from the teeth. As a result, pockets of infection can form where bacteria gets trapped under the gumline. The infection can worsen over time and an abscess can form.
  • Chip or Crack on the Tooth: Maybe you bit down on something hard or the tooth has been weakened due to wear and tear over the years. It’s possible for a chip or crack to form on the tooth, which can be an opening for bacteria to move into the inside area of the tooth.
  • Trauma: Any type of damage or injury to the mouth can increase the likelihood of an abscess forming. For example, if you are hit in the mouth during a sports activity and the tooth is damaged, then bacteria might move into the damaged area of the tooth and cause an infection.

How Do I Know If My Tooth Is Abscessed?

While a dentist can give an official diagnosis when you have an abscess, every person needs to know the most common symptoms. You can search online for “what is an abscessed tooth.” But the symptoms are usually pretty clear and straightforward.

The most common symptoms of a tooth abscess include:

  • Severe toothache that doesn’t subside
  • Swelling in the jaw and/or face
  • Sensitivity when the tooth comes in contact with cold or hot
  • Fever
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing

What is an abscess tooth look like? Most patients can feel the symptoms even if there aren’t any visible symptoms. For example, you might have a severe toothache, but a visual inspection of the tooth seems normal. Or, some patients have visible signs of the infection, such as swelling and a visible pocket of pus in the infected area.

What is the difference between an infected tooth and an abscess tooth?  The truth is that these two terms are referring to the same type of dental problem. If you have an abscess tooth, then it means that there is an infection in the tooth.

If you suspect that you have a tooth infection, then the best thing you can do is contact our dental office for an examination. We will take a look at the tooth and help you determine an accurate diagnosis and necessary treatment plan.

What Are the First Signs of Sepsis from Tooth Abscess?

While it’s not common, there is a possibility of the tooth infection to move into the bloodstream causing a condition known as sepsis. This systemic infection can cause severe health issues and requires immediate emergency medical intervention.

Signs of sepsis include:

  • High fever
  • Shivering and chills
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Extreme discomfort or pain
  • Skin is sweaty or clammy
  • Breathing changes (either shortness of breath or rapid breathing)
  • Disorientation or confusion

If you notice any of these symptoms, then it’s essential to seek emergency medical intervention without delay.

How Do They Fix an Abscessed Tooth?

There are several treatment options that can be used, depending on the severity of the infection and how the tooth is being affected. Each patient is unique, which is why it’s best to consult with an experienced dentist to determine the ideal treatment plan.

The most common tooth abscess treatments include:

  • Root Canal: This treatment involves drilling into the tooth so the dentist can remove the inner pulp and clean out the infection. The good news is that root canal technology has come a long way in recent years, making it as comfortable as a normal filling. A root canal is often an effective solution to save the tooth from extraction.
  • Tooth Extraction: If the infection is severe and the tooth is damaged beyond repair, then the dentist might recommend a tooth extraction. While our goal is to save the natural tooth whenever possible, there are times when extraction is the best course of action.
  • Antibiotics: Sometimes, it isn’t enough to remove the infected portion of the tooth. The dentist might recommend an antibiotic treatment as a way to fight the bacteria that might be left behind. Antibiotics can be administered through a pill, IV therapy, or an on-site treatment by packing the inside of the tooth with antibiotics.
  • Pain Management: In addition to addressing the root cause of the tooth abscess, also talk to your dentist about pain management options. These might include pain relievers or using an ice pack to manage swelling and reduce pain.

Will antibiotics get rid of a tooth abscess? Yes, they can be an important part of the treatment plan. But it’s important to note that antibiotics alone aren’t enough. It’s also necessary for the dentist to treat the underlying cause or damage to the tooth to prevent the infection from recurring.

Call the Local Dental Experts

While you can find information online about “what is an abscessed tooth,” the most important thing you can do is reach out to a dentist as soon as possible. Our team is here to help if you have an abscess of tooth. Contact myDental to book an appointment at one of our nearby locations.