An abscessed or infected tooth is a dental problem caused by bacteria penetrating through your tooth enamel and dentin to reach the pulp (pulpitis), such that pus begins to collect within. It can also occur when bacteria gets trapped in deep gum pockets. This results in a number of unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Throbbing pain in the tooth
- Pain in the surrounding areas, such as the ear, lower jaw, and neck
- Soreness of infected tooth and surrounding area when biting
- Pain in the teeth when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Fever and general feeling of being unwell
- Difficulty opening your mouth and swallowing
Types of tooth abscesses
If you suspect that you have a tooth infection, you should visit your dentist immediately for diagnosis and/or emergency treatment. Your dentist may discover one of two types of tooth infections:
- Periapical abscess – It is the most common type of tooth infection. It happens when you have a hole in the tooth enamel, which allows bacteria to enter and make its way to the pulp. The bacteria infects the pulp and spreads to the bone surrounding the tooth, causing a pocket of pus to form at the tip of the tooth root
- Periodontal abscess – This type of abscess is the result of untreated gum disease. The infected gum tissue becomes inflamed and begins to move away from the bottom of your tooth. This creates a gap that is difficult to clean, allowing bacteria to build up. Ultimately, a pocket of pus forms at the side of the tooth root to form a periodontal abscess.
Cases of dental abscess are treated by draining the pus and resolving the infection by removing the damaged tissue from the pulp. Additional remedies may include:
- Over-the-counter medication to help with the pain
- Antibiotics to stop the spread of the infection
- Root canal therapy and then capped with a dental crown to strengthen it
- Tooth extraction and replacement with a partial denture, bridgework, or dental implant.
Please visit your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.