A tooth abscess happens when
a tooth fills with pus and other infected material. This occurs after the
center of a tooth becomes infected with bacteria. It’s typically a result of
tooth decay or a broken or chipped tooth. Bacteria can seep into the tooth’s
center (pulp) when the tooth’s enamel is broken.
After the tooth is infected,
pus collects inside the tooth and causes swelling and pain commonly known as a
toothache. Without proper attention, the infection can spread from the
pulp and out to the bones supporting the teeth
Pain is the main symptom of
a tooth abscess. Other symptoms may include:
- sensitivity to hot or cold
- pain when chewing
- bitter taste in the mouth
- swollen or red gums
- bad breath
- swollen glands in the neck
- swollen upper or lower jaw
In a case where the tooth’s
root dies, the pain will stop. However, the infection could continue to the
supporting bones and create serious problems.
If you can’t see your
dentist immediately, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers or warm
salt-water rinses to ease the pain and provide temporary relief.
Only your dentist can treat
a tooth abscess. Your dentist’s main goal will be to save the tooth by draining
the abscess and ridding the mouth of infection. Antibiotics may be given to
fight the infection. A root canal may be needed in order to save the tooth. If
the tooth cannot be saved and the infection is serious enough, the tooth may
need to be removed. If serious enough, you might be hospitalized to prevent the
infection from causing more intense problems.