If you have a toothache, it is important to seek dental care right away. Dental problems can worsen over time if left untreated and may even require surgery. One of the common complications you need to look into is developing a dental abscess. In this blog post, we will discuss the five tooth abscess stages. This information may help you recognise the problem early on and get treatment before the infection becomes more serious!
- What is a tooth abscess?
- What are the symptoms?
- The 5 tooth abscess stage
– Enamel Decay
– Dentin Decay
– Pulp Decay
– Abscess formation
– Serious complication
- How to treat a tooth abscess
- Prevention tips for avoiding tooth abscesses
- FAQs about tooth abscesses
What is a tooth abscess?
A tooth abscess, also known as an oral abscess or a dental abscess, is a localised infection at the tip of the tooth’s root. It is a localised infection that leads to pus accumulation.
A bacterial infection causes an abscess from a long-term buildup of pus inside the gums or teeth. The condition can develop for several reasons, including tooth decay, gum disease, and trauma to the tooth. This infection damages the tooth’s surrounding tissues, causing recurrent toothaches and other symptoms.
Three forms of oral abscesses can develop in various areas surrounding a tooth, including:
A gingival abscess is also known as a gum abscess. It is a painful, quickly growing lesion between the gums and teeth. A bacterial infection causes it.
The impact of a foreign item is the most prevalent cause of a gingival abscess. This might be popcorn, a sliver from a toothpick, or anything else.
A gum abscess first appears as a red swelling with a glossy, smooth surface. The abscess gets pointed after about 48 hours and has a more significant chance of rupture as it proceeds.
A periodontal abscess is a pus-filled pocket that develops in the gum tissue. This abscess is characterised by a glossy, smooth swelling that protrudes from the gums and is sensitive to touch.
The tooth or teeth around the abscess may become painful or loosen. Patients with periodontal disease are more likely to develop a periodontal abscess.
This is the most severe stage of gum disease, resulting in lifelong bone loss.
Periodontitis is caused by the accumulation of tooth plaque and hardened tartar (calculus) over time. Calculus can be seen beneath the gum line (subgingival), between the gums, or along the gum line. Scaling and root planing are the only ways to eradicate calculus.
A periapical abscess develops near the tooth’s root. It is made up of a pus pocket that forms due to a bacterial infection. Bacteria penetrate the tooth’s deepest component (dental pulp) via a cavity, fracture, or chip.
The nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissues are found in the tooth pulp. It offers sensory innervation (stimulation) via the nerve of a tooth. Once the germs have passed through the pulp, they can travel down to the root, resulting in an abscess.
Inflammation, swelling, and discomfort are common symptoms of an abscess near the tip of a tooth’s root.
Causes of tooth abscess
Tooth abscesses develop when bacteria in the mouth get deep inside a tooth or its surrounding structures and multiply out of control.
Below are some of the leading causes of a tooth abscess.
- Untreated cavities. Over time, plaque bacteria eat away at the tooth, causing tooth decay. If the erosion continues without treatment, an abscess may develop.
- Gum disease. Severe gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, exposing deep pockets between the teeth and gums. Food and bacteria can also become trapped inside the gum pockets, resulting in an abscess.
- Injury in the mouth. A damage to the tooth or its surrounding structures can also increase the likelihood of a tooth abscess. These injuries could occur due to surgery or trauma to the mouth.
What are the symptoms?
An abscess can cause the following symptoms:
- toothache that may spread to the jaw, ear, or face
- mouth, face, or neck swelling
- lymph nodes swelling around the face or neck
- feeling ill in general
- a loose tooth or multiple loose teeth near the infection site
Bacteria from a dental abscess can spread to the bloodstream if not treated. This can lead to developing a dangerous and perhaps fatal illness known as sepsis.
The following are some of the signs of sepsis:
- Chills or fever
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Dizziness or fainting
- Disorientation or perplexity
- Slurred speech
- Skin that is chilly, clammy, or mottled
- Reduced urine output
- Vomiting and nausea
- Acute muscular ache
- Awareness lapse (loss of consciousness)
The 5 tooth abscess stages
- Enamel Decay
The first stage is damage to the first layer of your teeth (enamel). Enamel decay is often caused by plaque buildup on your teeth. Some people may not experience any symptoms. Others may experience tooth sensitivity or develop spots on their teeth.
- Dentin Decay
If you don’t treat your enamel decay, it will progress to the next layer of your tooth. Dentin is the yellowish second layer. Many people will experience increased tooth sensitivity in this stage. In others, a small hole in your tooth may develop.
- Pulp Decay
The soft inner pulp is the deepest layer of your affected tooth structure. If bacteria reach this layer, they can attack the tooth’s nerve. This often causes severe tooth pain. Eventually, the tooth’s nerve dies, when the abscess begins to form.
- Abscess formation
Once the bacteria makes its way to your pulp, it can start to spread deeper into your gums or jaw bone. Your gums may begin to swell, and you may see a small bump on your gums. This may feel like throbbing pain in your teeth, gums, and surrounding tissue.
- Serious complications
If you do not treat your tooth abscess, it could lead to severe symptoms. The most common complications are tooth loss and sepsis.
How to treat a tooth abscess
- a bone infection
- an infection of the sinuses or the neck tissues
- a heart infection, like endocarditis.
A dentist will prescribe medicines to destroy the germs and prevent them from spreading while treating a tooth abscess.
The dentist will also need to treat the tooth decay or damage that produced the abscess to prevent the infection from reoccurring.
Treatment may include:
- Filling dental cavities
- Abscess draining
- Scaling and root planing, a technique that cleans underneath the gumline, is used to cure gum disease.
- Crowns or implants are used to repair or replace missing or damaged teeth.
- Root canal treatment, especially if the infection reaches the tooth root
- Tooth extraction
Bacteria from an abscess can spread to the circulation and other organs in rare circumstances. A person with a broad bacterial illness will require hospitalised IV antibiotics. They may also need surgery to remove infection-damaged tissues.
Prevention tips for avoiding tooth abscesses
To assist in avoiding dental abscesses, you can follow the following procedures:
- Brush your teeth properly to get rid of as much plaque as possible. Pay close attention to the region immediately behind the gum line, where plaque can hide.
- To help prevent tooth decay, use fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss your teeth regularly to eliminate plaque between your teeth.
- Make frequent dental checkups to ensure complete cleaning. A dentist can also remove stubborn plaque or tartar that brushing alone cannot remove.
- Treat diabetes and any other underlying medical condition that may impair the immune system and raise the risk of infection.
- Seek treatment for cavities as soon as possible before germs may infiltrate deeper components of the tooth.
An abscessed tooth can develop due to tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma to the mouth. Without treatment, the bacterial infection that causes the abscess can spread to other parts of the body. This can cause serious complications.
A person who experiences tooth abscess symptoms should see their dentist as soon as possible. It is possible to treat both the abscess and its underlying cause with the proper care. Good oral hygiene and regular dental cleaning can help prevent a tooth abscess from forming.