An abscess is an injury infected by bacteria that is characterized by the accumulation of pus inside the affected tissue. When our teeth or gums are suffering some damage and we do not pay the attention that we must to solve it opportunely, a consequence can be the infection and accumulation of pus of the tissues related to the tooth, forming what we know as a dental abscess. This can cause the suffering of symptoms such as stinging pain and pressure, as well as fever, swollen neck ganglia, bad taste in the mouth, among others. To avoid severe complications, it is very important to visit the dentist as soon as possible to cure the infection completely and restore the affected tooth as much as possible.
Causes of dental abscess
The dental abscess may have different origins and depending on the tissue that it affects, it will be given a name or another to describe it. In most cases, the affected tooth has an advanced caries that produces extensive destruction of the tissues and compromises the pulp of the tooth, that is, the component that gives life to the tooth. If an early solution is not given to this and the lesion continues to advance, the pulp tissue dies and produces the spread of bacteria through the extreme end of the root (apex) and a cluster of said bacteria, producing what we know as a periodical abscess.
In other situations, the infection has its origin at the level of the gum as a result of a deposit of bacterial plaque on the surface of the teeth, which produces the formation of large gaps between the gum and the tooth, known as periodontal pockets. When these bags are filled with bacteria they can become infected, producing a gingival or periodontal abscess, depending on their depth. Other cases in which the formation of abscesses in the gum can occur is the presence of foreign bodies or the packing of food in the space between the gum and the tooth.
A very common case of dental abscesses is related to the eruption process of the third molars (wisdom teeth). During this process, a space is usually formed between the gum and the tooth similar to that of a periodontal pocket, inside which the bacteria grow very easily, causing tissue inflammation and infection. This process is known as pericoronaritis, which is one of the most common causes of pain related to third molars.
Symptoms of dental abscess
Among the main symptoms of dental abscess is pain, which is caused by the irritation caused by the infectious process on the tissues affected and the inflammation that accompanies the infection. This pain usually appears mainly during chewing, although it can also be spontaneous and in cases of periodontal abscesses there is often pain when it comes to contact with cold or hot foods.
You can get a bad taste due to the discharge of pus from the tissues to the mouth, especially in cases of pericoronitis and periodontal abscesses, and this outflow of pus may be accompanied by blood.
Due to inflammation, the gum enlarges and turns red. When a periodontal abscess has advanced enough, it can produce destruction of the bone that supports the tooth, so it begins to have mobility.
In the periodical abscess, when the infection has long been present, it begins to produce a destruction of the bone until it reaches the gum, forming a red bulge through which the pus escapes. This path from the infection to the gum is called a “fistula” and its appearance is related to a momentary relief of pain.
Complications of the dental abscess
When the abscess is not controlled, the affected person may develop fever and inflammation of the lymph nodes.
In the most severe cases, the infection can spread to other regions through muscle fibers or cause inflammation of a wide area of the face, producing a cervicofacial cellulitis. A very rare situation is the spread of infection through the blood and causing infection of other tissues (sepsis).
Treatment of dental abscess
It is important to mention that no abscess of dental origin is cured only by the use of antibiotics (even when they help to control it), since it is always necessary to drain the accumulation of pus and eliminate the agent that caused the appearance of the infection. First place. This is done in different ways depending on the type of abscess the person has:
- Periodical abscesses: the tooth must undergo a procedure called endodontic treatment, also known as root canal treatment. This procedure is carried out by a dentist specialist in endodontic and consists in eliminating the dead tissue and infection along the root and bone with the help of substances and antiseptic medicines. Once the ducts and bone have been disinfected, the endodontic seals the entrance to the duct to prevent reinfection.
- Periodontal abscesses: you should see a periodontics. The treatment consists of draining the infection and then a procedure called scaling and root planning, which consists of the removal of plaque and calculation of the roots of the affected tooth, and create a suitable surface for the recovery of the gum.
- Treatment for pericoronaritis: it is carried out by an oral surgeon. In general, this condition is a criterion to opt for the extraction of the wisdom teeth, since although the inflamed tissue can be removed by a procedure called operculectomy, the only definitive treatment for pericoronitis is the extraction of the wisdom teeth.
However, when a tooth affected by an abscess has too extensive destruction of its structure or the surrounding bone and the chances of recovery are few or none, it is necessary to extract it to drain the infection.
We invite you to go to a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.