A tooth abscess is a serious dental condition that you should seek treatment for as soon as you can. If not, it can lead to tooth loss, jaw bone loss, or cause health problems. To avoid this, our Southland Dental Care periodontist in Los Angeles, CA, can discuss the various tooth abscess treatment options with you. The type of dental solution will depend on the cause, location, and severity of the infection. The end goal is to get rid of the infection, prevent tooth loss, and restore oral health.
What is a Dental Abscess?
A tooth abscess is where a pocket of pus develops from a bacterial infection and is a more serious condition than gum disease. The pus pocket is typically located around the tip of the tooth root in the jaw bone but may be located elsewhere. In severe cases, bacteria destroy the tooth’s enamel and infect the sensitive tooth pulp (soft tissue within the center of the tooth). This can eventually lead to pulp death. Early tooth abscess treatment can help prevent the infection from advancing and destroying the tooth structure. In addition, some patients may require gum disease treatment if periodontitis is the underlying cause of the abscess.
Types of Dental Abscess
The following are the three different types of dental abscess, which are classed according to their location:
- Periapical abscess: Forms at the tip of the tooth root
- Periodontal abscess: Caused by severe gum disease that affects the bone or soft tissue around the tooth root
- Gingival abscess: An abscess that forms on the gum, especially from a deep periodontal pocket hosting built-up bacteria
Prior to tooth abscess treatment, patients experience the following typical signs or symptoms:
- Fever or swollen lymph nodes (signs of infection)
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks
- Gum redness, swelling, or tenderness
- Jaw pain, especially when chewing
- Pus discharge or a bad taste in the mouth
Note that symptoms may not appear if the pus pocket is draining on its own. However, the bacterial infection will persist until properly treated.
Tooth Abscess Causes
A dental abscess can occur in adults and children for different reasons, although poor oral hygiene is a leading cause. Habitually failing to brush and floss at least twice daily causes bacteria to accumulate and turn to plaque, an off-white, sticky film that forms over the teeth and gum. Plaque hardens into tartar and is filled with bacteria that can eventually destroy the tooth’s enamel or cause a cavity (tooth decay). Bacteria then enter through the cavity and cause the abscess to form at the root tip. Other common causes or risk factors are:
- Gum disease
- Tooth trauma (chipped, cracked, or loose tooth)
- Skipping routine dental checkups
- Weak immune system
An abscess does not heal on its own. In fact, the infection can spread to your jaw, neck, head, or other parts of the body. Furthermore, bacteria from an untreated abscess can enter the bloodstream and lead to conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Meanwhile, your periodontist in Los Angeles may stress the importance of gum disease treatment for a periodontal abscess to avoid loose tooth or tooth loss.
Tooth Abscess Treatment Options
Before personalizing your treatment plan, your dentist or periodontist will do a detailed oral exam, x-rays, and even a CT scan to determine the cause and extent of the infection. Based on the findings, the dental solution may involve tooth abscess treatment and gum disease treatment. Standard treatments are as follows and may depend on the type of abscess:
- Antibiotics: Prescribed to kill the bacteria causing the infection, particularly when the infection spread to the jaw, nearby teeth, or other areas. However, t