An infection in your tooth root that has abscessed is a serious matter. Here are a few facts about abscessed teeth that can help you make the right decision for your health quickly and get the treatment, including a root canal, that you may need.
What happens when a tooth becomes abscessed
A tooth abscess happens when there is an infection in or around the root of the tooth. Infection can enter a tooth due to decay, a crack or a chip in the tooth, or when periodontal (gum) disease becomes advanced and the infection enters through a pocket (gap) between the tooth and the surrounding gums. When there is an abscess, the pulp inside of a tooth dies and may become inflamed.
Symptoms of a tooth abscess
Often patients with a tooth abscess will feel an ache in the bone around the tooth. This may start as a throbbing pain that won’t go away. Sensitivity in the tooth to heat and when chewing may also be present. Later, a fever may develop, or lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck may swell and become tender. If the abscess breaks open, a sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting fluid (pus) may spill into the mouth.
After acute pain passes and the diseased pulpal tissue dies, the pain may fade, or even go away, but the problem won’t.
Treating an abscessed tooth
A dental specialist such as an endodontist should evaluate a tooth that may be abscessed. They will take a detailed history of the pain symptoms, test the responsiveness of the tooth to temperature and pressure, and evaluate radiographs (x-ray pictures) in order to help make a diagnosis.
It’s important to determine the origin of the infection. If the infection is inside the tooth’s pulp, a root canal treatment, with an appropriate restoration applied afterward, can ensure the infection doesn’t return. If it is a serious periodontal infection causing the abscess, the gums also will need to receive treatment to prevent the spread of the infection.
“Always take toothache symptoms seriously,” says Dr. Susan Wood, an endodontist with the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “Get a professional evaluation. If it is being caused by an abscessed tooth, a root canal treatment can often save the tooth and keep it healthy for years to come.”