What Is an Abscess ?

Daily care of your teeth and gum by brushing, flossing, and rinsing is vital to prevent dental problems such as tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontitis, or even an abscess. A dental abscess is a collection of pus in the gum or around the teeth, also called a periodontal or gum abscess. It can develop in a matter of days due to a bacterial infection. Although it usually causes pain and other symptoms, the infection can go unnoticed for a long time. 

Abscess of the gum always requires dental treatment. Left untreated it may cause damage to the pulp or surrounding bone structure of the tooth, also known as a periapical or tooth abscess. In severe cases, a dental abscess may lead to life-threatening complications.

Symptoms of a dental abscess 

• Pain
• Inflammation
• Fever
• Loose tooth
• Tooth sensitivity (heat or cold)
• Bad breath
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Bad taste in the mouth
• Throbbing sensation inside the gum

Tooth abscess treatment 

A course of antibiotics is usually prescribed to treat the bacterial infection. Depending on the severity of the pain, your dentist may recommend an over-the-counter painkiller or prescribe an NSAID such as ibuprofen. If the infection is severe, the dentist may drain the abscess by making an incision on the gum, extracting the fluid, and suturing the gum.

Once the infection goes away, your dentist can carry out further treatment if necessary. It could include a root canal to remove infected or dead tissue surrounding the tooth or the diseased pulp. This is done to prevent further infection and save the tooth. An extraction may be necessary if the tooth cannot be saved.

What happens if I don’t get treatment for my abscess? 

An untreated abscess can lead to tooth loss or health complications. For example, a fistula may form to drain the pus. A fistula looks like a pimple and usually forms on the gum surrounding the infected tooth. Drainage may ease some of the symptoms, but the infection will persist until it is treated. An untreated abscess may also spread to soft tissue in the face, jaw bone, or to other parts of the body and cause fever, blood infection (sepsis), or heart infection (endocarditis).

Can I get an implant or bridge if my tooth is extracted? 

Your dentist will help you decide if you are a good candidate for dental implant or bridge if the infected tooth cannot be saved. Implants are permanent replacement teeth that provide a natural look and feel. Some patients opt for bridges which are more affordable but will need replacing after a number of years. Both of these options help to restore teeth function and may improve your smile.

Visit your dentist today!

An abscess does not go away on its own and will need to be treated by your dentist. Dr. Sina Malekuti, DDS, of At Sina Malekuti Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is certified by the American Dental Association. He has experience treating dental or tooth abscess and performing dental procedures to save or replace teeth. Call us today at 703-451-3211 to book a consultation for treatment and reduce the risk of complication.

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