Although many adults have heard the term dental abscess, what exactly does it mean? A dental abscess refers to a buildup of pus at the base of a tooth or adjacent to it in the area between the tooth and gums.
It forms due to bacterial infiltration inside the tooth or periodontal tissues. Despite the fact a dental abscess may look small, if left untreated, it can cause severe discomfort and a more widespread infection that can further compromise your oral health and overall well-being.
A periapical abscess occurs at the end of your tooth’s root. You may develop one from an untreated cavity, recurrent decay, or injury that affects your tooth’s inner vital tissues. Each situation makes your tooth vulnerable to bacterial infiltration and damage that can ultimately affect the tooth's nerve and vital tissues, causing them to die. Once this happens, the resulting infection can lead to an abscess with pus accumulating at the root tip.
In many cases, a root canal treatment with antibiotic therapy will address the source of your periapical abscess, prevent further infection, and preserve your tooth. However, you may require getting the tooth extracted in cases of extensive structural damage, supporting bone loss, and other considerations.
Although also caused by bacterial infiltration, a gum or periodontal abscess has a different origin and typically occurs alongside the tooth. It usually happens when dental plaque and food debris get left around the teeth and gums. This accumulation triggers an inflammatory process that causes the pocket or gap between the teeth and gums to worsen, making it even harder to clean. Pockets that trap bacteria and debris can lead to an abscess. If left untreated, a periodontal abscess can cause a larger infection, pain, bone loss, and tooth loss and even pose consequences to your overall health.
If you notice a gum bubble in the area below the base of your tooth’s root or between your teeth, experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, contact our office for care:
In all cases, the key to protecting your health is getting the prompt attention and care required. When left untreated, a dental infection can quickly become more serious and have severe consequences. Emergency medical attention is required in cases of severe swelling, high fever, or difficulty breathing.