Understanding Dental Abscesses

June 10, 2024

Have you ever heard of a dental abscess? It's not something many people like to think about, but it's an important topic to understand. A dental abscess is essentially a buildup of pus at the base of a tooth or adjacent to it in the area between the tooth and gums. This happens when bacteria invade inside the tooth or periodontal tissues.

The Distinct Types of Dental Abscesses

There are two main types of dental abscesses: periapical and periodontal. A periapical abscess occurs at the end of your tooth's root, while a periodontal abscess typically happens around the tooth. Both are caused by bacterial infiltration, but they have different origins and treatment methods.

Periapical Abscess: Root Causes and Treatment

A periapical abscess often develops from an untreated cavity, recurrent decay, or injury that affects your tooth's inner vital tissues. This can make the tooth vulnerable to bacterial infiltration and damage, potentially leading to a dead nerve and vital tissues. As a result, an infection can form with pus accumulating at the root tip. In most cases, a root canal treatment with antibiotic therapy will address the source of your periapical abscess, prevent further infection, and preserve your tooth. However, you may need to get the tooth extracted in severe cases.

Periodontal Abscess: Detecting and Managing Gum Infections

Although also caused by bacterial infiltration, a periodontal abscess has a different origin and typically occurs alongside the tooth. It usually happens when dental plaque and food debris get left around the teeth and gums. This accumulation triggers an inflammatory process that can worsen the gap between your teeth and gums, making it harder to clean. Pockets that trap bacteria and debris can lead to an abscess. If left untreated, a periodontal abscess can cause bone loss, tooth loss, and even pose consequences to your overall health.

Identifying the Symptoms of Dental Abscesses

If you notice a gum bubble in the area below the base of your tooth's root or between your teeth, and experience one or more of the following symptoms, it's time to contact our office for care:

  • Persistent, severe, throbbing toothache and pain that radiates to the jawbone and neck
  • Sensitivity to hot
  • Sensitivity to touch or biting pressure
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Tender, palpable, inflamed lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • A palpable bubble-like lesion between the teeth or below the teeth
  • Foul smell or taste

Taking Swift Action Against Dental Infections

In all cases, the key to protecting your health is getting the prompt attention and care required. When left untreated, a dental infection can quickly become more serious and have severe consequences. Emergency medical attention is required in cases of severe swelling, high fever, or difficulty breathing.

At Howard County Family Dentistry, our dedicated staff works hard to provide you with the highest quality dental care possible. We understand that dealing with a dental abscess can be uncomfortable and even scary, but rest assured that we're here to help. If you think you may have an abscess or are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, don't hesitate to give us a call. Our office is always ready to assist you in maintaining your oral health and overall well-being.

About Us

Our goal is to help every patient experience the benefits of good oral health and a beautiful smile. We value the trust you have placed in our office and strive to provide solutions that meet your dental needs and expectations of care.



Existing Patients: (410) 489-7565
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