A dental abscess is a painful swelling filled with a thick fluid that is yellow in color (pus). There are two types of dental abscess, a gum abscess (also known as a periodontal abscess) and a tooth abscess (also known as a periapical abscess).
What causes a dental abscess?
A dental abscess is a pus-filled lesion at the roots of a tooth, and is caused by an infection can get its start as an untreated tooth cavity.
A gum or periodontal abscess is a pocket of pus in the tissues of the gum caused most commonly occurring as a complication of advanced periodontal (gum) disease, a chronic condition caused by factors such as poor plaque control and smoking.
Dental abscess symptoms
Dental abscess symptoms include:
a throbbing pain
a swelling filled with pus
inflammation of the gums
teeth that are sensitive to pressure
a foul taste in the mouth (caused when the pus drains)
It is important not to ignore tooth or gum abscess symptoms, as the infection can last months or years and will not go away without treatment. Left untreated, the infection can cause damage to the teeth and bone surrounding it, and can also progress to the bloodstream, causing more serious complications.
Dental abscess treatment
If you think you have a tooth or gum abscess you should seek immediate help from your dentist.
Your dentist will clean the area around the abscess treat the infection by draining the abscess of the trapped pus. Sometimes, a fistula develops in the mouth through bone and skin to allow pus to drain. If this hollow tunnel has developed as a result of your abscess, your dentist will clean this, allowing it to close up on its own.
When an infection has started inside the tooth, your dentist will need to make a small access cavity into the tooth to allow the abscess to drain. Root canal treatment and a filling or crown will be required following this procedure.
In cases where the abscess has caused damage to the tooth or is particularly large, you may need to have the tooth removed.
If your dental abscess is caused by periodontal disease, the disease will need to be treated to prevent further infection. However, your dentist can drain the abscess to alleviate pain.
How to prevent a dental abscess
Abscesses can be prevented by maintaining good dental health. This includes daily brushing and flossing as well as regular checkups with a dental professional.