Treating an Abcess Tooth

by: Sandy Johnson, RDH

An abscess is the classification of a tooth with severe and extremely painful decay and damage involving the root or nerve endings. The cause of an abscess could be anything from untreated decay to trauma, such as a broken tooth that then became infected because of the direct exposure to bacteria in the mouth. Symptoms of an abscess tooth can include, sensitivity to temperatures of food, bad breath, tenderness or swelling in surrounding gums, discomfort when chewing, fever, pain in the jaw, and sometimes a sore in the gum of the infected tooth.

If these symptoms appear or persists, you should consult your dentist and seek immediate treatment. Once the dentist identifies the problem to be an abscess, he or she will work to preserve as much of the tooth as possible, while eliminating the damaged tissue. This may require the tooth to be drained of infection either through an incision in the gums or by having a root canal surgery. Depending on the extent of the damage, this procedure may involve the removal of the root tissue of the tooth after the drainage as stopped. Typically, a crown is placed over the remaining portion of the tooth to protect from breakage since it no longer has a blood supply which provides strength. In the event that a root canal cannot fully contain the infection, the entire tooth may need to be extracted.

Abscessed teeth can be highly painful and may even lead to worse conditions like infection of the jaw bone if left untreated, so it is crucial to seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

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