An abscessed tooth is a painful infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth. It’s most commonly caused by severe tooth decay. Other causes of tooth abscess are trauma to the tooth, such as when it is broken or chipped, and gingivitis or gum disease.
If bacteria is able to enter the center of the tooth infect the center of the tooth through openings made by dental trauma or gum disease, an infection can result. This infection may also spread from the root of the tooth to the bones supporting the tooth. Left untreated, this can result in severe pain, infection, loss of tooth or teeth, and a medical emergency.
Signs & Symptoms of Tooth Abscess or Infection
Symptoms of an abscessed tooth and possible infection can include:
- Severe and continuous toothache, or shooting pain
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Foul smell to the breath
- Swollen neck glands
- General discomfort or ill feeling
- Redness and swelling of the gums
- Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw
- An sore on the side of the gums, or what may look like a pimple or bubble near your tooth. May be open or draining
If the pain goes away and you did not seek treatment, it is possible that the nerve inside the tooth died, which would relieve some of the pain. However, it does not mean that you are well, or that there is not a problem with your tooth. You are advised to contact 1st Family Dental for an emergency walk in appointment as soon as possible.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Your dentist will conduct an emergency exam of the affected area, which can include x-rays to determine the extent of and any potential causes of the issue. Be sure to let your dentist know if anything happened to cause trauma to your tooth recently, or if you had any recent changes in your medical history.
Your dentist may need to drain the abscess and/or prescribe an antibiotic regimen to be able to evaluate the tooth further, or to be able to provide necessary treatment such as a root canal to address the reason for the abscess.
Draining the abscess, starting a root canal and pain medication can all help to relieve the symptoms of many types of dental emergencies. However, the relief of pain does not mean that the cause of the issue has been fixed. If your dentist recommends that you return to complete root canal or receive other dental treatment, we cannot recommend strongly enough that you complete this treatment, to avoid possible painful or costly dental emergencies in the future, or even possible medical emergencies.