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What Is an Abscessed Tooth?

HomeDental AbscessWhat Is an Abscessed Tooth?

woman holding her jaw in pain from a dental abscess

An abscessed tooth is the result of an untreated bacterial infection. Infection causes a buildup of pus and debris underneath the gums on or near the root of a tooth. Read on to learn about warning signs of an abscessed tooth, causes, treatment, and prevention!

Warning Signs

Abscesses are usually characterized by:

  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Pain that spreads out from the affected area to other parts of the face, jaw, and neck

If an abscess is located on top of the gums, it’s called a gingival abscess, which can look similar to a pimple. Other symptoms can include:

  • Pain that increases while chewing or lying down
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Loose adult teeth
  • Tooth or gum discoloration

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call our office so we can advise!

Causes of Infection

Bacterial infections can be caused by untreated cavities, gum disease, or a foreign object lodged in between a tooth and the gums. Unfortunately, infections don’t go away on their own, even if the abscess ruptures and the pain and other symptoms die down.

Treatment for an Abscessed Tooth

Typically, dental abscesses can be treated with relative ease if they are diagnosed and taken care of sooner rather than later. A root canal may need to be performed to clean out the affected area. This process is performed with a local anesthetic, which numbs the gums and makes the entire treatment far less painful than the dental abscess itself.

Dental abscesses are considered dental emergencies because if they are left untreated, the infection can spread and cause serious damage. If you have an abscess and begin experiencing a fever, rapid heart rate, or your face becomes swollen, we recommend going to an emergency room right away.

How to Prevent an Abscess

Sometimes dental abscesses are completely unavoidable, so we recommend that patients practice good oral hygiene at home, schedule regular dental appointments with our team, and take care of dental issues like abscesses as early as possible to avoid more invasive and costly procedures in the future.

Contact us today for more information about tooth infections or to schedule an appointment at Edgewater Dental Arts!

Written by

John Cutting, DMD is an Annapolis dentist experienced in all aspects of dentistry. He provides complete care from general dentistry to cosmetic and restorative dentistry in his conveniently located and comfortable office, Edgewater Dental Arts.