Abscess is a collection of infected material in a newly formed cavity . A tooth abscess is a collection of pus in a cavity formed around the tooth root.
Causes – The tooth abscess is a complication of tooth decay or trauma to your teeth.
- Tooth decay causes penetration of bacteria inside the tooth until they reach the pulp. The pulp is an organ that feeds the tooth tissue and protects it from infection, but if you don’t remove the decay and replace the lost tissue, the pulp gets inflamed and dies. The tissue becomes necrotic and becomes a source for infections. The bacteria that now are inside the root canal seek to go further inside the maxillary bone, and in the root apex this infection causes the formation of granuloma (self defense mechanism of the body) that attempts to wall off substances perceived as damaging.If the bacteria from inside the root canal conquer the natural defenses, the granuloma gets infected and then it is then called tooth abscess. It now contains: dead immune white cells, live or dead bacteria, dead tissue. This process can be cause severe toothache, because if untreated, the pus attempts to find a way out the bone, causing destruction of the bone tissue all the way.
- The trauma most frequently happens in the front teeth, especially in kids, but it can also happen in molars because of incongruous teeth fillings or caps. It also causes pulp necrosis because the pulp can’t support the force caused to it and can’ regenerate so it dies. Than the same process that we explained for tooth decay happens until the formation of tooth abscess.
Symptoms - Tooth abscess can cause a series of symptoms, but the most important is the severe toothache that usually starts during the night hours when the body is relaxed or in a horizontal position. The tooth pain is described as sharp, shooting or throbbing. Other symptoms may be:
- Swelling around the tooth or if the infection is severe swelling on the entire side of the face where the infected tooth is
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Pain when the infected tooth touches the antagonist tooth or something hard when chewing
- Sensibility to cold and even to hot foods or drinks.
Prevention – In case of tooth decay, tooth abscess can be prevented because it is not a condition that forms overnight. If you have untreated cavities you need to visit a dentist and treat them so that they don’t complicate and become an abscess. However, when trauma is involved, abscess can happen more unexpectedly, so it’s better to visit a dentist as soon as you feel some discomfort at the spot where the trauma happened, so you can prevent tooth abscessing or any other complication that may occur.
Treatment – The aim of the treatment is to cure the infection and save the devitalized tooth. For the infection, antibiotics like amoxicillin may be prescribed by the dentist, as well as pain killers for the pain. It may also be necessary to have a root canal therapy to remove the bacteria and fill the tooth to restore the lost tissue. Sometimes if the infection is severe or it’s a great risk for the patient, like a patient with endocarditis, a recently received transplant or other complicating conditions, the only treatment is the removal of the infected tooth and drainage of the abscess.
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