A dental abscess is an inflamed pocket of pus, usually appearing at the gumline, as a result of a bacterial infection. A dental abscess is usually the result of advanced dental decay in which the pulp – the inner core of the tooth containing the tooth nerve – has become infected.
At our Rigby dental clinic, we offer solutions to dental abscesses, as well as any stage of dental decay that may lead up to it.
The Formation of a Dental Abscess
To fully understand this, we need to start from the very beginning.
Plaque is the main culprit in almost all dental problems, the reason being that plaque is acidic and filled with bacteria.
The outer layer of the tooth is called the enamel. This consists mainly of minerals. It’s an incredibly hard substance – harder than bone, in fact! That makes it the hardest substance in the human body.
That said, it’s still not invulnerable to the corrosive effects of plaque. Once it is worn down, it begins dissolving the dentin; this is the second layer of the tooth consisting mainly of calcium.
Dentin is harder than bone, yet softer than enamel; thus the process of decay happens a bit quicker for the dentin.
Once a hole is worn away, you officially have a cavity. (We can fix this with a Rigby dental filling.)
From here, plaque begins to infect the tooth pulp. As stated above, this is the soft inner core of the tooth. It contains the tooth nerve and blood vessels that supply life to the tooth.
The technical term for an infection of the tooth pulp is “pulpitis” – one of the most painful stages of dental decay. It’s basically nature’s cruel and unusual punishment for not brushing your teeth.
As a result of the infection, the pulp begins to swell (inflammation is one of the body’s natural ways of fighting infection), but to compound the problem, the swelling is suppressed by the surrounding dentin. Thus, the pressure gets forced down onto the tooth nerve, intensifying the pain. This also puts pressure on the blood vessels in the pulp, cutting off the blood supply to the tooth.
Finally, an inflamed pocket of pus forms near the tooth nerve, usually at the gumline.
The Symptoms of a Dental Abscess
- A pimple-like protrusion at the gumline
- Severe pain, usually radiating to the jawbone, ear, or neck
- Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Face or cheek swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or jaw
- Difficulty swallowing
If the abscess ruptures, you’re likely to taste some extremely foul fluid in your mouth accompanied by relief from your pain.
How Our Rigby Dental Services Can Help
If you have a dental abscess, chances are you’re experiencing a great deal of pain. This pain often keeps people from seeing a dentist for fear that the treatment will increase it.
This is perfectly understandable. The thought of someone poking and prodding at your tooth can be nauseating considering how much pain you’re already in. However, keep the following in mind:
- Local anesthetic and conscious sedation are both safe and readily available at our Rigby dental clinic
- The sooner you seek treatment, the faster you will find relief from your pain
- Our treatment is safe and effective
The mandatory procedure is to drain the abscess. This can involve incising (opening up) the abscess and draining all of the pus and bacteria. This alone will afford you a great deal of pain relief.
After this, we wash the area with saline (saltwater).
Draining an abscess is usually performed in conjunction with other dental procedures, mainly:
- Performing a root canal – Often, a root canal is itself used to drain the abscess. We can drill down into your tooth and remove all of the dead and infected tissue. Then, we fill the “pulp chamber” and root canals. Finally, we may place a dental crown (especially if it is a molar).
- Pulling the tooth – If the tooth is extensively decayed, there may be no way of saving it. In this case, we can extract the tooth fully. Following this treatment, we can also install a dental implant.
If you are experiencing a dental abscess, don’t wait for things to get worse! We offer effective, safe treatment that will relieve you of your pain. Contact our Rigby dental office today.