A tooth abscess is a serious dental issue that can take several months to develop. Once an abscess has formed, pain and swelling usually occur around the affected tooth. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other tissues and cause complications. Patients who experience any of the following symptoms should contact their dentist immediately: severe pain, swelling, fever, or difficulty swallowing.
Infections that spread can be life-threatening and should be taken seriously. Abscesses can develop quickly, within a day or two of the first signs of infection. They can also progress undetected and, without treatment, can develop over months or even years. Early detection is key to preventing the spread of infection. We recommend visiting a dentist regularly for dental exams and checkups and contacting them at the first sign of any infection or problem.
Bacteria enter through a dental cavity or a chip or crack in the tooth and spread to the root. This bacterial infection can cause swelling and inflammation at the tip of the root. Alternatively, the tooth may need to be extracted and the abscess drained to prevent the infection from spreading further. Unfortunately, along with its natural defense properties, a dental abscess represents an additional risk to teeth and gums and can erode the periodontium (the dental structure formed by the gum), the periodontal ligament (PDL) or the hard and compact alveolar bone, causing irreparable damage. A periapical tooth abscess usually occurs as a result of an untreated dental cavity, injury, or previous dental treatment. If the tooth abscess has reached the internal pulp chamber, root canal therapy is needed to eliminate bacteria from the tooth's pulp chamber.
A dentist or doctor will provide treatments to attack the infection and prevent it from spreading further. Tooth decay is a common cause of tooth abscesses, which can also occur as a result of a fractured, cracked, or chipped tooth. Bacteria can enter the innermost part of the tooth through a deep cavity or a chip or crack in the tooth. Infections can be serious and it's always important for patients to know when to call their dentist. Either way, bacteria are the main culprits since they enter through a dental cavity or through a chip or crack in the tooth. As with most dental problems, it's important to contact your dentist for treatment of a tooth abscess as soon as possible for favorable results for your smile and your long-term health. In addition to other steps, your dentist may prescribe antibiotic treatment if the infection has spread to nearby teeth.
If the tooth is located near the maxillary sinus (two large spaces under the eyes and behind the cheeks), an opening may also develop between the tooth abscess and the sinus. Keep in mind that a tooth abscess occurs gradually and that a number of dental problems and clear stages are necessary.