A dental abscess or tooth abscess is a collection of pus that is associated with a specific tooth. The two commonest types of tooth abscess are periapical abscess followed by periodontal abscess. Other less common types are gingival abscess, pericoronal abscess, and combined periodontic endodontic abscess. A periapical abscess is usually caused by a bacterial infection that is found in the soft pulp of the tooth. It can be caused by a broken tooth, decay, extensive periodontal disease or a combination of all three factors. It is important to differentiate a periapical and periodontal abscess as the management of both conditions are different.
Diagnosis can be aided by a dental radiograph. The goal of treatment in a tooth abscess is to eliminate the offending pathogen. This means that treatment includes antibiotics and drainage of pus. Depending on whether if the tooth can be restored, a root canal therapy (for a restorable tooth) or extraction and curettage (for non-restorable) may be performed. A severe case that is left untreated can result in the perforation of the bone extending into surrounding soft tissues resulting in osteomyelitis and cellulitis.
Abscessed Tooth Symptom #1: Pain
The pain in a tooth abscess is often described to be extreme, sharp, radiating, shooting, or throbbing. The pain can also be aggravated by pressure and warmth on the affected tooth. The area is usually localized and is sensitive to touch.
Other associated symptoms that are often present include swelling, fever, and redness. The pain can be reduced or managed by applying ice packs and taking medications such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and more.