Tooth abscess is a cavity filled with dung in the tissue around the top of the tooth root, which is embedded in the jaw. Abscess usually develops if the tooth is decaying or dying; this decaying can leave toxic substances in the pulp chamber and in the root canal, as well as bacteria, which can easily infect the surrounding bone of the jaw.
If the abscess is not treated, it will ”bite through” the canal (sinus) in the bones and gums. Immediately below the surface of the gums, a swelling – abscess – will be formed.
Tooth abscess is painful and persistant, and every bite or chew with diseased teeth usually causes very severe pain. If the abscess breaks (rupture), the pus will come out, the patient will feel unpleasant taste in the mouth and the pain may weaken. Glands in the neck can swell and hurt, as well as the cheek. Fever often occurs and the patient generally feels ill.
If you do not go to the dentist regularly, you will probably get apsces sooner or later. If you do not treat the broken tooth it will die and dead teeth may, as we already stated, cause abscess in some cases.
If the abscess is not treated by a dentist or physician, there is a danger (though small) of spreading of the infection through the bloodstream and general blood poisoning.
What to do?
Immediately go to the dentist. If the working time in the dental clinic has passed, and the abscess is very painful and increases rapidly, go to a doctor who may give you an antibiotic to prevent further spreading of the infection. But, of course, go to the dentist as soon as possible.
Self-help: you will alleviate your pain with aspirin. Wash your mouth with salt water every hour, which may accelerate the rupture of the abscess and, by doing so, you will also wash any (possible) pus that comes out of this abscess.
Professional help: if the back tooth or deciduous (baby) tooth is affected, the dentist will probably take it out. However, if the affected tooth is the front tooth, the dentist will try to save it by drilling a small opening to the pulp chamber. This will relieve the pressure of the pus, as well as pain. The dentist will clean, disinfect and temporarily plump the pulp chamber and then, after some time, and if the infection does not return, permanently fill (seal) the pulp chamber and the hole. About six months later, a dentist will take an X-ray of the tooth to check whether the abscess cavity is filling with new bone and tissue.
In some cases abscess does not disappear, and a small infected cavity is retained; in such cases, the dentist may need to perform a small operation called apicoectomy. After he paralyses the gums with a local anesthesia, the dentist will cut the bone above the root, remove the infected tissue and fill (seal) the root canal. In rare cases this procedure is also unsuccessful, so the tooth needs to be removed.