When a tooth become severely decayed, it can cause an infection in the pulp chamber at the interior of your tooth. This type of infection inside a tooth is called a tooth abscess. If the bacteria goes untreated and is allowed to multiply, it can even spread into your jaw bone or neck. Abscesses can result from severe decay, mouth trauma, or long-term teeth grinding or jaw clenching. No matter the cause, a tooth abscess is a serious situation that requires treatment.
Symptoms of an abscess
The first sign of an abscessed tooth for most patients is pain. It can occur when you eat or when you press on the tooth, and can also cause jaw pain if the infection has spread. Another sign is the tooth becoming a darker color than the teeth around it. Swelling is another common symptom of a tooth abscess, and can occur in your mouth, jaw, or neck. A pimple containing pus on the gum near the problem tooth is a clear sign of infection.
Diagnosing an abscess
Patients who experience symptoms should realize that something is wrong and see a dentist right away. An examination and tests such as X-rays will diagnose the abscess. Patients who neglect visiting the dentist out of fear of treatment should realize that untreated infection can become extremely serious, affecting your overall health. Your dentist can offer options for your comfort such as sedation to get you through the process if you are anxious.
Treating an abscess
Usually oral antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. Then your dentist or endodontist will perform root canal therapy to clean out the tooth, eliminate infection, and seal the tooth to prevent future infections. Often a crown is placed on top of the tooth to complete the process. Root canal treatment is not as scary as its reputation, and the benefits of saving your tooth and correcting the abscess are invaluable.