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How to Know if You Have an Abscessed Tooth

Posted on December 09, 2020

Tooth abscesses can be painful, but they are treatable and can be taken care of quickly by a good endodontist. You should visit the dentist right away when you experience the symptoms of an abscessed tooth, as it can cause serious complications if left untreated.

What Is an Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth is a bacterial infection that creates a pocket of pus in the tooth. It often occurs in the root, which is referred to as a periapical abscess. Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include:

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold as well as chewing or biting.
  • Facial swelling.
  • Tender lymph nodes beneath the jaw.
  • A severe toothache that you feel throughout your jawbone.
  • A fever.

What Does a Tooth Abscess Look and Feel Like?

An abscess feels painful and tender. The buildup of pus generally occurs at the bottom of the root and looks like pus buildup in any other part of the body, containing yellow, foul-smelling liquid. A tooth abscess puts pressure on the rest of the tooth and makes everything feel sensitive and even hot to the touch. Tooth abscess stages include:

  • Dental decay, which impacts the dentin and enamel of the tooth.
  • An extension of the decay into the nerve and pulp.
  • A buildup of the infection in the root, which can spread to bones, gums and other teeth if you do not seek treatment.

Can You Have an Abscessed Tooth Without Pain?

Occasionally, people feel no pain when they have a tooth abscess. However, it is rare to have a pain-free tooth abscess, which may present as a bubble on the gum.

Causes of Tooth Abscesses

Tooth abscesses are caused by bacteria attacking the dental pulp, which includes nerves and blood vessels. Bacteria may invade the tooth through a chip, crack or cavity and travel into the root. You are more likely to experience a tooth abscess if you:

  • Practice poor dental hygiene. Not brushing or flossing your teeth regularly increases the likelihood of developing tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to abscesses.
  • Experience dry mouth. Saliva moves bacteria out of the mouth, and a lack of saliva can boost the risk of tooth decay. Aging or side effects of some medications may cause dry mouth.
  • Consume a poor diet. Eating a lot of sugar and sweets that cause tooth decay can lead to cavities that turn into tooth abscesses.

Tooth Abscess Treatment

Your endodontist will focus on treating the infection that caused the tooth abscess. They can diagnose the issue with an X-ray, which helps them see how far the infection has spread. Treatments for tooth abscesses may including draining the abscess, performing a root canal or extracting the infected tooth. You may need to take antibiotics to heal the infection and prevent it from spreading.

An experienced endodontist will discuss all your options with you and help you determine the best course of treatment. If you suspect you have a tooth abscess, contact Midtown Endodontist NYC today to book an appointment.

About Dr. Chiyoon Ahn

Throughout his academic and professional career, Dr. Chiyoon Ahn has excelled in teaching as well as the practical application of his knowledge. He has also found time to participate in numerous community service ventures over the years, including musical therapy for geriatric patients and providing support services for low-income communities.

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