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What is a Dental Abscess?

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. When the teeth and gums aren’t properly cleaned through regular brushing and flossing, the bacteria form a sticky film on the teeth called plaque that produces acids, which can damage teeth and gums and result in tooth decay or gum disease. When left untreated, a bacterial infection can occur and pus can collect inside the teeth, gum or jaw bone. This is known as a dental abscess.

People with weakened immune systems including those with other underlying health conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, and patients undergoing certain other treatments such as chemotherapy or steroid medications may be at a greater risk for the development of a dental abscess. A dental abscess is a serious condition not only for dental health, but for the entire body as the infection can spread. Typically, an abscess is quite painful, but not always. Abscesses will not go away on their own and it is vital to see a dentist as quickly as possible.

The symptoms of a dental abscess may include pain, throbbing, swelling, redness, bad breath, an unpleasant taste, darkening of a tooth, or sensitivity among other indications. In addition, as the infection spreads, there may be difficulty opening the mouth or swallowing and there may be signs of fever, sweating and dizziness.

Treatment for a dental abscess means removing the infection and accumulation of pus. However, these tooth infections occur below the gum and can’t simply be washed away. Therefore, abscesses are generally treated through a combination of antibiotics and a routine root canal, which the dentist performs with anesthesia. 

A root canal removes the damaged nerve and pulp within the decayed tooth and is then filled to help save the tooth. At times, the tooth is too far damaged when treatment is sought and must be extracted. This is why it is so important to seek treatment quickly in order to increase the chances of saving the tooth.

The best way to prevent a dental abscess is through the maintenance of good oral hygiene including brushing and flossing, regular dental cleanings and examinations. Your dentist can inform you if there are signs of tooth decay or gum disease developing and can use X-rays to diagnose problem areas.

If you would like more information or are experiencing symptoms of a dental abscess, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein and her caring staff at My Plantation Dentist can help. To schedule your appointment, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.

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