Abscessed teeth are a common endodontic ailment that people of all ages can experience. The condition refers to a bacterial infection that affects a tooth, causing it to develop a pocket of pus somewhere in or around its structure. People with an abscessed tooth may have mild or severe radiating pain that could extend to their ears or necks.
If you have a dental abscess, it is important to receive the treatment you need from a licensed endodontic professional like Dr. Todd. The infection will not clear up without professional endodontic intervention. If you choose not to seek dental abscess treatment, the illness could spread to your neck, head, and other body parts.
Abscessed Teeth and Infected Teeth: What Are the Differences?
People often use the terms “dental abscesses” and “tooth infections” interchangeably, but they are not the same. A tooth infection results from oral bacteria entering a tooth and infecting its pulp. Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of teeth that protects the pulp, nerves, and roots against bacteria, but germs can bypass the enamel if you have a deep cavity, gum disease, or a dental fracture.
An abscess can form when a dental infection does not receive prompt treatment. The infection can extend beyond the tooth pulp and root to infect the tip of the tooth root (periapical abscess) or the bone next to the affected tooth (periodontal abscess).
In severe cases, both tooth infections and abscesses can cause extreme pain that extends from the site of the bacterial damage to other parts of the head and neck. However, an advanced abscess will form a pus-filled pocket in the gum tissue near the infected tooth.
Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth
Radiating pain is one of the primary signs of a dental abscess. The ache might come and go periodically or spread to other parts of your ear, jaw, and neck. You might feel worse when lying down or chewing food.
Facial swelling and redness may also be present, as well as gum inflammation. The pain could lead to tooth sensitivity, which causes discomfort when you eat or drink something hot or cold. A periodontal abscess due to gum disease may cause your gum tissues to recede, weakening the support structure for your teeth and making them loose.
In some cases, people have tender lymph nodes in their necks or under their jaws. Fevers are also possible.
Causes of Dental Abscesses
Bacteria are the cause of dental abscesses. The mouth contains hundreds of bacteria types, some of which are more harmful than others. If bacteria enter a tooth or gum tissue, they could lead to an infection, which, if left untreated, can develop into an abscess.
The most common ways that bacteria invade teeth and gums are through:
- Tooth Decay
- Gum Disease
- Cracked or Broken Tooth
Failing to receive timely treatment for the initial tooth infection can lead to the death of tooth pulp. Depending on the condition of your teeth, you could have multiple dental abscesses at once. They can also travel through bone and develop in various locations in the mouth, even though one tooth may be the cause of the infection.
Brushing and flossing at least twice a day and seeking routine dental care while limiting your sugar consumption will prevent excessive harmful bacteria growth in your mouth.
How We Diagnose Abscessed Teeth at Elite Endodontics
Dr. Todd of Elite Endodontics has several methods for diagnosing abscessed teeth in his Pensacola patients. During an endodontic examination, he will perform a visual inspection of your teeth and gums, he may also gently tap on your teeth. If an abscess is present, you will feel pain when he taps the infected tooth.
Dr. Todd may also take either an intraoral x-ray or 3-D Cone-Beam image to get a closer look at your teeth. Not only will the digital imaging help him pinpoint the location of an abscess, but the x-ray will also show him if the infection is spreading to other areas in your mouth.
Our Dental Abscess Treatment Options in Pensacola
Dental abscess treatment varies based on the severity of a patient’s condition. At Elite Endodontics, Dr. Todd may prescribe antibiotics to treat an oral infection that extends beyond the abscessed tooth. However, the medication alone will not get rid of the abscess.
A root canal is one of the more common dental abscess treatment options. To save the tooth and eliminate the source of the infection, Dr. Todd will clean out the pulp of the tooth, including the infected tissue, and reseal the tooth with a temporary filling. You will need to follow up with your general dentist for a permanent filling and/or crown. Alternatively, if the tooth is not salvageable, it may require extraction.