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What is a dental abscess?

Dental abscess is a condition that occurs due to the accumulation of infected tissue in the centre of the tooth. It can be due to an untreated cavity, injury or previous dental treatment. It occurs more commonly in the young and the elderly compared to middle-aged adults.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of dental abscess include:

  • Persistent, throbbing pain in the tooth that may radiate to the jaw
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to the pressure of biting or chewing
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Sudden rush of foul-smelling, salty fluid in the mouth, if the abscess ruptures

What are its main causes?

The main cause is bacterial invasion into the dental pulp – the inner portion of the tooth where blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue are present. It may be caused by tooth decay. The bacteria enter through a crack or cavity in the tooth and infect the centre (pulp) of the tooth, causing swelling and pus collection. Risk factors include:

  • Improper dental care: Irregular brushing and flossing habits
  • High sugar consumption: Consuming foods and drinks rich in sugar like sweets and sodas

How is it diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose a dental abscess, the dentist examines the affected tooth and taps on the teeth to check for sensitivity to touch or pressure. Other tests include:

  • Dental X-ray may help to find an abscess and the extent to which the infection is spread.
  • CT scan may also be ordered.

Treatment is advised to stop the progression of the infection. The methods include:

  • Incision and drainage
  • Root canal treatment
  • Tooth extraction
  • Antibiotics

Self-care tips:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water after meals, so that no food particles are present.
  • Painkillers can be taken.
  • Brush your teeth at least two times a day with fluorinated toothpaste.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
  • A healthy diet can reduce the chances of infection and foul smell.
  • Antiseptic or fluorinated mouthwash can be used.
  1. Medicines for Dental Abscess
  2. Doctors for Dental Abscess
Dr. Dimpy Raina Darbari

Dr. Dimpy Raina Darbari

Dentistry
26 Years of Experience

Dr. Harsh Sinha

Dr. Harsh Sinha

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Dr. Hakim Shaikh

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Dr. Pallavi Patel

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References

  1. Muhammad Ashraf Nazir. Prevalence of periodontal disease, its association with systemic diseases and prevention. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2017 Apr-Jun; 11(2): 72–80. PMID: 28539867
  2. American Association of Endodontists. Abscessed Teeth. Chicago [Internet]
  3. Health On The Net. Tooth abscess. [Internet]
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Tooth abscess
  5. American Dental Association Reproduction. Abscess (Toothache). [Internet]
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