There are two types of dental abscesses and they both cause a collection of pus to form in or around the affected tooth. A periapical abscess affects the pulp located in the centre of your tooth and is usually caused by tooth decay, which creates the perfect environment for bacteria to reach the tooth pulp. A periodontal abscess affects the space between a tooth and your gum, and is usually seen in people with gum disease, which can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. When this happens bacteria can enter the gap and cause a boil-like abscess and swelling around the affected tooth.
An abscess should be treated promptly to prevent tooth loss or complications such as the spread of the infection to nearby bones or your sinus cavities. Here's what you need to know about dental abscesses:
Symptoms of an abscess can include:
Your dentist can diagnose an abscess during a routine check-up. They will drain the pus out right away by either puncturing the abscess or drilling a tiny hole into the centre of the affected tooth to let the pus drain out. They may also give you some antibiotics to prevent the abscess from spreading.
Just draining the pus out isn't enough to stop the abscess recurring, but it will give you some temporary relief. The next stage of treatment depends on the type of abscess you have. Root canal treatment is usually required for a periapical abscess. This involves inserting a tiny file into the hole that was made to drain the pus out of your tooth and scraping out the damaged tooth pulp. Next, your dentist will wash out any remaining debris with a disinfectant solution and fill the cavity with a sealing paste and amalgam or tooth-coloured filling.
If you have a periodontal abscess, your dentist will clean the area around the punctured abscess and file down the exposed root surface of the affected tooth to encourage the space between your gum and tooth to heal over. Closing the gap can prevent further infections, so if your gum doesn't seem to be pulling closer to your tooth you may be referred to an oral surgeon for gum contouring surgery. The surgery is usually only required if you have a compromised immune system, which can slow down the healing process.
If your tooth is in the later stages of infection, treatment is unlikely to be successful as too much of your tooth will be damaged. In these situations tooth extraction is the only way to resolve your discomfort. If you think you have an abscess you can increase your chance of keeping your tooth by scheduling an appointment with a specialist like All Smiles Dental Centre as soon as possible.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved stories about the past. Whether the stories were about horses, wars, exploration or even dentistry, I loved to hear them. I find that knowing the history of something helps it to make sense and feel approachable. I know that some people have dental anxiety, and I too have suffered, but I also feel like the more you know about dental work and its history, the easier it is. This blog is dedicated to exploring the history of dentistry – What did ancient people use for fillings? How did early dentists numb their patients? Who was the first dentist? Those are just some of the questions I plan to answer here. Ready? Okay, let's dive into the history of dentistry together!