Tooth abscesses

A tooth abscess is an infection within the tooth and requires medical attention to treat. If you never experienced a tooth abscess or even if you have, a short lesson on what tooth abscesses are and how they come to be is probably a good place to begin.

What is a tooth abscess?

When a tooth decays, it creates an empty cavity. As a result, there is a strong possibility of an infection in that decayed space. The infection creates a pocket of a thick, opaque liquid, or pus, in the infected tissue of the tooth, which is known as an abscess. If not treated, either by a general dentist or an endodontist, a specialist in treating abscessed teeth, the infection can spread to the neck, head or any other part of the body.

Is a tooth abscess a dental emergency?

Yes, an abscessed tooth definitely is a dental emergency. It could be a periapical abscess, which forms at the tip of the tooth root, or a periodontal abscess, which forms on the bone next to your tooth. Symptoms include general pain, swollen cheeks, gum redness, pain while chewing food, swollen lymph nodes, fever or trouble breathing or swallowing. The abscessed tooth might look as simple as a small bump on your gum, but when it is pressed, pus oozes out.

How can a tooth abscess be treated?

To deal with the pain, you can take pain-relieving medication while you wait for your appointment with your dentist or endodontist. An endodontist’s sole aim is to save the tooth, which is possible if it is caught early enough. To save an abscessed tooth, your general dentist or endodontist will need to perform root canal surgery.

With this surgical procedure, the endodontist will drill into the infected tooth and clean out the pulp and the root canals that go down into the gum. After that, your dentist or endodontist will fill and seal the empty space where pulp was and place a crown on top that is as strong as the old natural tooth. If the tooth cannot be saved through root canal surgery, the only option is to extract the tooth.

A tooth abscess is a dental emergency, and if you suspect such an infection, take immediate action — get to a dentist or the ER for immediate care and treatment.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Alencar Family Dentistry, request an appointment in our Chesapeake dental office here: Or call us at (757) 975-8014.

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