A tooth abscess is formed when there is an infection at the root of your tooth, and a pocket of pus develops. Tooth abscess stages usually occur in six phases and must be given dental treatment to ensure the infection heals and does not spread to the other structures in your mouth. At Top Health Dental we are committed to the long term dental health of our patients and can assist you with treatment for a dental abscess.
What Are The Tooth Abscess Stages?
A tooth abscess develops over the course of six stages, and these include:
- White spots
- Decay of enamel
- Decay of dentin
- Infection of the pulp
- Formation of the abscess
- Tooth loss
Intervention in the earlier stages of a dental abscess formation can result in a more positive outcome. Once the pulp has become infected however it becomes more difficult to save the tooth, and more likely that tooth loss could occur. If the infection spreads it can affect the gums, bones and other teeth in your mouth.
What Causes A Dental Abscess?
The majority of tooth abscesses are caused by dental decay, which allows bacteria into the tooth and begins the process of infection. Injuries and damage to the tooth enamel allow bacteria to enter the tooth and begin the process of decay which is left untreated.
Patients who have compromised immunity or who are taking certain types of medication are more predisposed to developing abscesses. People who follow high sugar diets can also expect a greater build up of plaque and tartar on their teeth and should practice more diligent dental hygiene to combat this.
Signs and symptoms that you could have a tooth abscess include
- Very painful toothache that may extend into the neck, jaw or ear
- Pain, sensitivity or pain when chewing or eating and drinking hot and cold temperatures
- Swollen red gums
- A fever
- A persistent bad taste in your mouth even after brushing, flossing and rinsing
- Swollen glands or a swollen jaw, which usually indicates the presence of a severe infection
Rinsing with a saline solution can help to keep your mouth clean and reduce inflammation.
In most cases a dental abscess is very painful, which leads patients to seek patients, but it is not always painful, and any suspicious symptoms should be reported to your dentist for investigation.
Different Kinds Of Tooth Abscesses
There are three types of dental abscesses that can form:
A gingival or gum abscess is formed by infection in the space between the gum and tooth. It can be caused by food getting trapped in the space and is a very painful and rapidly deteriorating abscess. This type of abscess has a high likelihood of erupting 48 hours after presenting
A periapical abscess forms inside the tooth when your tooth nerve is dying or dead and occurs at the tooth root. It is usually the result of bacteria entering the tooth through a crack or fracture in the enamel.
A periodontal abscess develops when a pocket of pus forms in the gums. The abscess usually protrudes and is shiny on the surface. It is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar
Treating An Abscessed Tooth
The goal of treatment for a dental abscess is typical to save the tooth, and it may involve a few different strategies, depending on which tooth abscess stages you have already experienced. Your treatment plan may include a combination of
- Antibiotics to help manage the infection
Antibiotics are usually taken after the root canal treatment or tooth extraction to ensure the infection does not spread.
- Draining the abscess of infected matter
Sometimes the abscess will burst but most need to be drained.
- Root canal treatment to save the roots of the tooth and avoid the need for tooth replacement
- Tooth extraction may need to be performed in the event that the abscessed tooth cannot be saved.
Avoiding Tooth Abscesses
Most dental abscesses develop from untreated tooth decay and so the best line of defense is twice-daily brushing and flossing, combined with bi-annual visits to the dentist. Any lost fillings should be replaced as soon as possible and any signs of decay should be addressed by your dentist.
Would you like to find out more about the tooth abscess stages and how you can prevent an infection? It’s never too late to have treatment, regardless of what stage your abscess may be in. What’s most important is to ensure you receive urgent dental care. Please contact our practice for an appointment: (02) 8776 3232.