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John P. Goodman DDS

Tooth Abscess Symptoms and Treatment

By Dr. John Goodman on November 28, 2012

What is a Tooth Abscess?

Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess occurs when a pus-filled sac develops as a result of an infection in the root of a tooth.  The infection is generally caused by severe tooth decay or periodontal gum disease.  Tooth decay and periodontal gum disease often develop from lack of proper oral hygiene.  As a result of improper oral health care, plaque and bacteria will build up causing weakened teeth to decay and gum tissue to become infected.

                                                                                                                                                                        Examples of teeth that have an abscess

Warning Signs of an Abscess

An abscess is generally shown through symptoms of throbbing pain, swelling, and sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.  A tooth ache or sensitivity that progressively worsens or doesn't go away is usually a likely indication.  The gum area and tooth with an abscess usually will feel sore and cause difficulty chewing or biting. It is critical to address these early warning signs to identify whether there is an abscess to avoid further complications. 

Abscess Treatment?

If left untreated, an abscess can cause further health threatening complications.  A fever, swollen lymph nodes, and weakening of the body's immune system would just be a start.  If the abscess ruptures on it's own, it will often leak a foul discharge in the mouth.  Even after rupturing, dental attention is still required to treat the infection.  If the infection does not rupture it could spread to other areas of the body leading to more severe health consequences.

The treating dentist will take an x-ray of the tooth to determine severity of the infection and options for treatment.  In some cases, draining the abscess accompanied with medication to clear the infection, pain, and inflammation may be all that is needed.  A more severe situation may require a root canal, dental filling, and porcelain crown to restore the tooth and prevent recurrent decay.

A tooth is viewed as beyond the ability to restore or save when a dentist recommends removal or a tooth extraction.   If your situation requires tooth removal, make sure you follow instructions on how to properly care for your healing wound post extraction to avoid further complications, especially a dry socket. Treatment options following a tooth extraction are in the form of a Removable Partial Device, a dental bridge, or dental implant.

After treatment for the abscess or any further procedure, a follow-up evaluation at the treating dentist office is recommended to ensure proper healing.

Abscess Prevention

Maintaining your oral health through two routine dental exams per year as well as brushing three times a day and flossing once is extremely important.  Following this routine everyday will help to prevent tooth decay, periodontal gum disease, gingivitis, and other oral health concerns including an abscess.  Regular check-ups at the dentist also assist to lower the risk for oral cancer, heart disease, and more health issues. 

If you think you have a tooth abscess, immediately call the friendly staff  at 816-842-8585 of Kansas City Dentist, John P. Goodman, DDS.

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