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Dental Abscess: What You Need to Know

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A dental abscess is a highly painful condition. If you do not receive treatment for a dental abscess, you may lose the surrounding teeth. Below is a guide to everything you need to know about dental abscesses.

What is a dental abscess?

A dental abscess is caused when a tooth becomes infected. The infection usually begins within the inner chamber of the tooth which contains a soft pulp substance. This pulp contains blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria multiply within the tooth and cause fluid to build up. This fluid forms an abscess which places pressure on the nerves within the tooth and causes severe pain.

What are the causes of a dental abscess?

The leading cause of a dental abscess is tooth decay. If a tooth has high levels of decay, exposing the pulp within the tooth, this pulp will become inflamed and painful before it begins to die. The dead pulp creates the ideal conditions for bacteria to breed.

Another cause of a dental abscess is damage to the exterior of the teeth. If something impacts your teeth with great force, it can disrupt the blood supply within the pulp. The lack of blood eventually causes the pulp to die.

Grinding your teeth can cause the hard enamel layer to crack, exposing the inner pulp and creating a path for bacteria to enter the tooth.

What are the signs and symptoms of a dental abscess?

There are several signs and symptoms that you have developed a dental abscess:

  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, caused by the waste products created by the bacteria which are causing the infection
  • Pain when chewing food, caused by the pressure placed on the abscess during eating
  • Swelling of the gum, caused as your body attempts to fight the infection
  • Pus filled pimples on your gum, caused by pus draining from the site of the infection
  • A black or darkened tooth, caused when the pulp within a tooth dies

How is a dental abscess treated?

Your dentist will assess the extent of the infection. If the infection is mild, they may just prescribe antibiotics. If the infection is more advanced, as well as treating you with antibiotics, your dentist may carry out a procedure to drain the abscess. Once the infection has been successfully treated, your dentist will carry out a root canal procedure to clean and seal the tooth against further infection.

If you have any concerns about your dental health, contact your dentist today.