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Dental Abscess – An Overview

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus usually caused by a bacterial infection. The abscess can occur at different regions of the tooth for different reasons. It may occur at the tip of the root. A periapical tooth abscess can occur as a result of an untreated dental cavity, an injury or prior dental work. A dental abscess should be taken care of as soon as possible otherwise it can be extremely serious, even life-threatening.

Dental Abscess Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of a dental abscess are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Swelling in your face or cheek
  • Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting
  • Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
  • Sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting, salty fluid in your mouth
  • Pain relief if the abscess ruptures

If you have some/any/all of the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

Dental Abscess Risk factors

You may be at a higher risk of a tooth abscess if you have:

  • Poor dental hygiene: If you do not take proper care of your teeth and gums, not brush your teeth or floss regularly, you are at a higher risk of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth abscess, and other dental and mouth complications.
  • A diet rich in sugar: Eating and drinking foods rich in sugar very often can put at risk of getting to dental cavities that may turn into a tooth abscess.

Dental Abscess Diagnosis

In order to confirm your diagnosis of a dental abscess, your dentist will first thoroughly examine the affected area of the mouth. For this, he may:

  • Tap on your teeth: A tooth that has an abscess at its root is generally sensitive to touch or pressure.
  • Recommend an X-ray: An X-ray of the aching tooth can help identify an abscess
  • Recommend a CT scan: If the abscess has spread to other areas within the neck, a CT scan may be scan may be recommended

Dental Abscess Treatment

For treatment, your doctor may:

  • Perform a root canal treatment
  • Prescribe antibiotics
  • Open up (incise) and drain the abscess
  • Pull out the affected tooth

UPDATED ON 14/05/2024

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