What is an Abscessed Tooth?

Implant, Cosmetic & Family Dentist Serving Aurora, Centennial, Parker, Green Valley Ranch & Nearby Areas of Colorado

Posted: January 16, 2018

An abscessed tooth can be quite undesirable as it can lead to infection, swelling of the face, and severe pain that can prevent you from completing normal, everyday tasks. Below, we take a look at what abscessed teeth really are, how you can identify them and what can be done to prevent or alleviate pain.

Defining an Abscessed Tooth

A dental abscess is an accumulation of pus that forms a pocket within the mouth. This pus stems from an infection and occurs as a result of the immune system’s response to combat this occurrence. An abscess can become too large or significant for the body’s immune system to handle.

Two distinct types of abscesses occur within the mouth. The periodontal abscess starts within the gum pocket and directly ties to advanced gum disease, known as periodontal disease. There is also a periapical abscess along the tip of a tooth‘s root which directly ties into the necrosis or dying of the tooth‘s nerve from cavities and other.

Indications of a Tooth Abscess

The most common sign of a tooth abscess is a strong and unrelenting pain in the mouth. This pain will persist as time progresses and will not dissipate on its own. The pain stemming from a dental abscess is the result of an accumulation of pressure at the point of the infection. The proper dental treatment is necessary to prevent the abscess from expanding and remaining for months or even years, which can affect other parts of the body including the heart.

However, it is important to note there are some instances in which the abscess will not spur pain. Additional signs of an abscessed tooth include a bitter taste in the mouth, breath that smells bad, swelling or redness of the gums, pain during the chewing process, sensitivity to hot and cold, a swollen jaw and an open and draining sore along the side of the gum.

What Happens if the Abscessed Tooth is not Treated

Different types of abscesses will respond in their own unique ways if the individual does not receive treatment. As an example, the dental abscess known as the fistula will spur damage to nearby teeth and bone if left in place for too long. This damage can lead to the development of the abscess’s namesake, the fistula. The fistula is a hollow tunnel that is within bone and skin.  It resembles a pimple and permits pus to drain, sometimes causing an odd taste in the mouth. It is possible for the fistula to drain the abscess pus and subsequently decrease pressure and pain. However, there is no guarantee it will be healed. The infection will likely remain and require professional dental treatment.

Dental Abscess Treatment

The dentist will attempt to preserve the abscessed tooth, eliminate the infection and ward off complications. The abscess might require draining to eliminate the infection. It is also possible that root canal therapy will be necessary to heal the infection. If diseased root tissue remains following the procedure, we might suggest surgery for removal. After eliminating the infection and treating the tooth, we will position a crown above the tooth to provide a seal against bacteria and infection.

If you're struggling with the pain from an abscessed tooth, please contact Highpoint Dental Care in Aurora today at 303-500-8701 to schedule your dental exam and consultation. Our restorative and cosmetic dentists serve patients in the Aurora, Colorado, area including Green Valley Ranch, Parker, and Centennial.