A young woman with a swollen mouth

What Is a Tooth Abscess?

A dental abscess, also referred to as a tooth abscess, is a tooth infection that is a collection of pus underneath the tooth or around the gums. The infection commonly starts as an untreated decay, injury, or a leak from old dental work. The abscess or infection can also come from a cracked or broken tooth.

What Are The Stages of a Dental Abscess?

  • The first stage is tooth decay/cavity. This stage usually does not hurt since the decay is far from the pulp/nerve inside of the tooth. The decay is still in the enamel and Dentin (see photo below).
  • The second stage starts when the decay extends deep enough to infect the nerve/pulp. Usually this starts to cause sensitivity to cold and hot food and drinks.

If the infected nerve is not treated, the infection will build up at the bottom of the tooth and cause the abscess. The infection can begin to spread to other parts of your mouth like gums, bone, and other teeth.

The Diagram of Tooth Abscess

What Are The Symptoms of a Dental Abscess?

Early Stages

  • Sensitivity of hot and cold temperatures.
  • A toothache that cause headaches
  • Pressure to chewing and biting
  • Bad breath

Late Stages

  • Severe throbbing radiating to head and neck
  • Pain to chewing and biting
  • Swelling of the face or cheek
  • Swollen/Tender lymph nodes under jaw
  • Abscess can appear like a “bump” on your gum

What Is The Treatment Of A Dental Abscess?

Unfortunately there is no self-care cure for a dental abscess. You may temporarily reduce the inflammation by applying ice packs to the area. Your dentist can drain the area and/or prescribe medication like antibiotics to prevent the spread of the infection to other parts of your body such as your heart and brain. However, THIS IS NOT A FINAL TREATMENT.

There are only two ways to treat a dental abscess (periapical abscess)

Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy which is removing the infected  pulp and nerve from inside the tooth.   Although root canals have a bad reputation, the treatment is highly successful and pain free. After treatment, the tooth will look and feel like a natural tooth.  The biggest advantage of a root canal is saving the tooth!

A diagram representing the root canal procedure

Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction or tooth removal is the second option for treating an abscess. Tooth removal is recommended when the abscess is too large to save the tooth or if the patient has financial concerns with the cost of saving the tooth. IF the space is not replaced, teeth shifting can occur over time. There are options to replace the tooth.  

A diagram representing the mouth of a person with a shifted tooth

Treating Your Dental Abscess

At Family, Implant, and Cosmetic Dentistry in Brandon, our doctors can evaluate your tooth and treat your abscess with either option. We offer restorative, root canal, implant, sedation, and surgical dentistry in ONE PLACE.

Our Brandon dentists will discuss your options at your first visit.

How To Prevent a Dental Abscess?

Brushing and flossing your teeth, along with visiting the dentist every 6 months is the best way to prevent a tooth infection or abscess. Remember, early stage tooth decay does not hurt. Our Brandon dentists can detect and treat decay before it gets large enough to cause pain. The treatment of small decay is relatively conservative, less expensive, and fast.

A young woman with a swollen mouth

If you are suffering from a tooth abscess, you can schedule an appointment with our office today 

Call (813) 684-7888 or fill out a contact form. A dental abscesses will not clear up on its own, and treatment may make it possible for your dentist to save your tooth.

Schedule your appointment today

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