When you think of oral issues that should never go untreated, you probably think of gingivitis or a broken tooth. But there are a few others to consider, as well – like an abscessed tooth. Many people don’t even know what an abscessed tooth is, let alone the dangers of leaving it untouched. Here’s a run-down of the ailment and why you should, without a doubt, seek treatment from your dentist if you are dealing with this issue.
What Is an Abscessed Tooth?
An abscessed tooth means a tooth that is suffering from an invasion of bacteria. It occurs when bacteria creates an infection in your tooth or gums. Your body’s response to this infection is to create a small pocket of pus that won’t drain so the infection won’t spread. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your mouth.
Abscesses can be divided into two types. We’ll discuss each of them below.
The first type of abscess is a periodontal abscess. This usually occurs when food gets trapped between your teeth and gums, and an abscess forms between the gums and teeth where the food was trapped. You increase your risk of getting this kind of abscess by failing to properly clean your teeth by flossing.
The second type of abscess is a periapical abscess. This type occurs inside of the tooth pulp. Periapical abscesses can spread from the tooth pulp, the soft tissue and nerve bundle inside the root canal, to surrounding bones. If left untreated, the tooth pulp can begin to die from the infection, causing tooth loss.
What Are the Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?
It can be difficult to determine whether you’re suffering from an abscessed tooth. If it’s periapical, you won’t be able to see it. Even if it’s a periodontal abscess, the most common type, it may be affecting a part of your mouth that you can feel, but not see.
Here are a few symptoms of an abscessed tooth to look out for:
- Seeing a pocket of pus on the gums
- Feeling a soft bump on the gums
- Experiencing bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Feeling a sharp shoot of pain or throbbing around a tooth
- Seeing swelling or redness of the gums
- Suffering ailments in other parts of the body: swollen neck glands, sore throat, and fever
How to Treat an Abscessed Tooth
Over-the counter medicine can treat some of the symptoms associated with an abscessed tooth, but the only way to truly treat this condition is to see a dentist. He or she may recommend anything from draining to root canal treatment.