If you are experiencing intense pain in a tooth, something is wrong. It could mean that you have a tooth abscess—a serious dental issue. If this is the case, you will need treatment immediately, and we recommend that you contact your dentist for an appointment.
What is a Tooth Abscess?
A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in response to a bacterial infection caused by bacteria that invade the pulp of a tooth—the soft tissue inside the root canal. Once inside the pulp, the bacteria multiply and produce toxins that irritate and infect the surrounding tissue, leading to the abscess.
It typically develops at the end of a tooth’s root or in the gums and can cause severe pain, swelling, tenderness in the affected area and fever.
How Serious is a Tooth Abscess?
A tooth abscess is serious. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body such as the neck, jaw or brain and cause intense pain as well as serious health problems or weakening of your immune system. It will not go away on its own.
Your dentist will need to drain the abscess by making an incision in the abscess and allowing the pus to drain out. This will relieve the pain and pressure. Antibiotics will likely be prescribed to help clear the infection. You will need to take the medication as directed and finish the full course, even if your symptoms improve before you finish it.
It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully, and attend your follow-up appointment. Good oral hygiene is also important to help heal the abscess and prevent future abscesses. Brush and floss regularly.
If the infection has gone too far, or if it is caused by a damaged or infected tooth, further treatment such as a root canal may be necessary. This procedure involves removing the damaged or infected pulp from inside the tooth and sealing the root canal.
In extreme cases, the tooth may be too damaged to save and may need to be extracted. Prompt treatment is the best course of action for a positive outcome.
What Causes a Tooth Abscess?
The most common cause of a tooth abscess is untreated tooth decay. This allows bacteria to enter the pulp. Other causes can include trauma/injury to a tooth; gum disease; a cracked or chipped tooth; a faulty filling or a bacterial infection in the mouth.
What are Some of the Symptoms?
The most common symptom of a tooth abscess is a severe, constant toothache that may be accompanied by tenderness, sensitivity and swelling. You may also notice swelling in your face, cheek, jaw or neck, depending on the location of the abscess. The affected tooth may be sensitive to hold and cold temperatures or experience pain when biting or chewing food. Or you may notice a bad taste or odor in your mouth. Signs of a fever may mean the infection has spread.
When Should I See My Dentist?
If you suspect you have a tooth abscess, do not wait. Seek prompt treatment from your dentist to prevent further complications. The longer you wait, the worse the abscess may become, and the more complicated and difficult it may be to treat.
Contact Advanced Family Dentistry in Reston, VA
For treatment of an abscess, or any other dental, need, we’re here. Please let us know if you are in pain and we can schedule you in quickly. If you need to schedule an emergency appointment, please contact our office immediately.
Advanced Family Dentistry is located in Reston, VA. Contact us at 703-390-9191 to schedule your dental appointment.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.
Advanced Family Dentistry
Dr. Sonny Kim, DMD
11876 Sunrise Valley Dr., Suite 101
Reston, VA 20191