The term abscess when applied to teeth, conjures images of swollen faces and severe pain. While many people do experience these tooth abscess symptoms, others have no pain at all. This doesn’t mean you can ignore them, though.

What is an Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth is a dental infection that spreads from within or around a single tooth into the tissues around the root. This infection causes the buildup of pus in the tissues, and this pus can drain through a small hole in the gums or swell underneath the gums.

Abscesses can originate within the tooth when bacteria reaches the hollow chamber of the tooth, where the nerves and blood vessels reside. This typically results from a large cavity.  

Abscesses can also start in the tissues around the tooth. Known as a periodontal abscess, the bacteria originates in the dental plaque and tartar buildup underneath the gums.  

The important thing to understand is that this buildup of pus is a sign of a dangerous underlying infection.  Sometimes, an abscess does not cause pain because a draining hole prevents any buildup of pressure under the gums. In other cases, there is extreme pain.  Regardless of pain levels, any swelling or pus in the mouth is a warning sign of a serious problem.

Why Is It Important to Treat Abscessed Teeth?

When a tooth abscess symptoms develop, we know that the infection from the tooth has already spread into surrounding tissues. There is a very real danger that the infection can continue spreading.  In rare cases, dental infections spread into the airway, bloodstream or brain. In short, an abscessed tooth can kill you.

An abscessed tooth can also weaken your immune system, impairing your ability to fight off other illnesses.  

What Treatment is Necessary for Abscessed Teeth?

The treatment for abscessed teeth depends on the state of the tooth, its surrounding tissues, and your desire to keep the tooth. For those abscesses that come from within the tooth, a root canal treatment is necessary to remove the infected tissue, which is the source of the abscess. If the abscess originates in the gum tissues, you will need periodontal treatment to intervene and save the tooth.

In many cases of abscessed teeth, the destruction of the surrounding tissues is so severe that keeping the tooth is not a feasible option. Patients often elect for tooth extraction of an abscessed tooth, which immediately relieves pain and lowers the risk of spreading infection.

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