What Is a Dental Abscess and How Do You Treat It?

What Is a Dental Abscess and How Do You Treat It?

Oct 01, 2023

A dental abscess can be an extremely painful condition that requires prompt treatment. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what causes a tooth abscess, how to kill the bacteria causing it, whether it can go away on its own, and the recommended treatment methods. We’ll also provide some background on our dental practice, located in San Jose, CA.

What causes an abscessed tooth?

A tooth abscess occurs when bacteria infect the inner pulp of the tooth. It can happen if you have an untreated cavity or chip/crack in the tooth that exposes the pulp to bacteria. The infection spreads inside the tooth and causes a collection of pus to build up at the tip of the tooth root or between the tooth and gum. This pus buildup results in swelling, pain, and irritation.

Other causes of a tooth abscess include trauma to the tooth, extensive periodontal disease, or extensive dental procedures like root canals. The bacteria gain entry into the tooth’s pulp and multiply, leading to an abscess.

What kills tooth abscess bacteria?

The bacteria involved in tooth abscesses are often difficult to kill. The abscessed area is walled off, creating an environment where the bacteria can thrive. Taking antibiotics usually won’t kill the bacteria, as antibiotics have a hard time penetrating the abscess.

The most effective way to kill the tooth abscess bacteria is by draining the pus and removing the source of infection. It is usually done through a root canal treatment or tooth extraction. A dentist will open the tooth, drain the abscess, and clean out the infected pulp tissue in the root canal. It deprives the bacteria of their ideal environment.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed after draining the abscess to clear any remaining infection. But drainage and removing the infected tissue is key to killing the abscess-causing bacteria.

Can a tooth abscess go away on its own?

Unfortunately, a tooth abscess will not go away on its own. The infection will continue to worsen over time without proper dental treatment. The abscess and swelling can spread to other mouth, throat, or neck areas.

As the infection advances, it may lead to complications such as tooth loss, spreading infections through the body, or severe swelling of the face and neck. Extreme cases that are left untreated could even become life-threatening.

So, while a tooth abscess may cause only mild discomfort initially, it’s crucial to seek an emergency dentist near you before the infection worsens. Trying to wait it out is not recommended.

What is the treatment for a tooth abscess?

Treating a tooth abscess requires draining the infection and removing any infected tissue. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Root Canal Treatment involves opening the tooth, draining the abscess, and removing any infected pulp tissue. The tooth canal is cleaned, disinfected, and sealed. It saves the tooth.
  • Tooth Extraction – If you cannot save the tooth via a root canal, extracting it will be necessary. It drains the abscess and fully removes the source of infection.
  • Incision and Drainage – If the infection has spread under the gums and caused a gum abscess, a dentist may need to make an incision to drain the pus. Antibiotics may also be used.
  • Medications – Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pain medication may be prescribed to help manage infection and pain levels. But medication alone won’t get rid of the abscess.

Dental abscesses require prompt emergency dental care to remove the underlying infection. If you have symptoms of an abscess, such as severe tooth pain, sensitivity, or facial swelling, contact our dentist in West San Jose right away. We can diagnose the issue and begin appropriate treatment. Don’t delay when dealing with a suspected tooth abscess, as the infection can progress quickly. Call or visit Neeshat S. Khan, DDS, in San Jose, CA, today to get evaluated and start feeling relief!



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