What Is A Tooth Abscess?
A tooth abscess is a collection of pus within your teeth. There are many types of tooth abscesses, but they all have one thing in common: They are caused by bacteria or fungi that invade the teeth and cause inflammation. When these organisms multiply, they produce a sticky substance called “fecal matter” (or “poop”). These bacteria and fungi can survive outside the mouth for some time after their initial invasion. If left untreated, a tooth abscess can spread throughout the body and kill you.
The most common type of tooth abscess is known as a periodontal abscess. Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease that causes bone loss in your gums and teeth. Your immune system attacks the invading bacteria and destroys them, but it cannot fight off the damage done to your bones from lack of nutrition due to not being able to eat properly because of gum disease.
This leads to osteopenia, which means you’re losing bone mass. Osteopenia can lead to fractures and other problems later in life.
Another type of tooth abscess is called a periapical abscess. Periapical refers to the area of the tooth where the tooth comes out of your jawbone. An apical abscess occurs when bacteria enter into the pulp cavity around your teeth, causing inflammation and bleeding inside your mouth.
Your immune system can’t reach this area, so it tries to create a barrier around the bacteria using pus. This pus then builds up, and an abscess results.
A third type of tooth abscess is called a cervical abscess. A cervical tooth abscess occurs when you have a peridontal abscess that has drained onto your jawbone or the roof of your mouth. This mixture of bodily fluids causes an abscess that is at high risk of spreading into your sinuses or into your brain.
It can also spread to other parts of your body via your blood, causing serious illness. It is important to see a dentist as soon as possible if you suffer from this type of abscess.
Teeth abscesses can be painful or painless. They may cause bad breath, swelling in the face, and difficulty in chewing or swallowing food. You may also feel like you have a “lump” in your gums that is just below the skin.
Sometimes there will be an opening (or hole) to the skin where the pus is draining, causing a foul odor and yellowish color to appear around the skin opening.
The abscess can be felt by your dentist or doctor by examining your jawbone or gums with their hands. A dental X-ray may also be taken to see if there is an abscess.
There are three ways to treat a tooth abscess:
Leave it alone or attempt home treatment. This is not recommended. Get a root canal and have the tooth pulled.
This is the most common treatment. Open the abscess, clean it out, place antibiotics and a draining hole, and then close it up. This allows the infection to heal from the inside out. This is the most effective treatment.
Tooth abscesses can be avoided by taking care of your teeth and gums, flossing, and seeing a dentist regularly. Good dental hygiene can also prevent the need for a root canal or tooth removal, saving you time and money.
If you think you’re experiencing a tooth abscess, it is important to contact your dentist immediately. There are many dental clinics that offer after-hour or weekend emergency services for your convenience.
Sources & references used in this article:
The management of an endodontically abscessed tooth: patient health state utility, decision-tree and economic analysis by B Balevi, S Shepperd – BMC Oral Health, 2007 – bmcoralhealth.biomedcentral.com
Roentgenographic studies of tissues involved in chronic mouth infections by M Otto – 2017 – The New Press
Tooth‐specific and person‐level predictors of 24‐month tooth loss among older adults by AD Black – Journal of the American Medical Association, 1918 – jamanetwork.com