What Is an Abscessed Tooth?

In the US, there have been an increasing number of emergency room admissions and hospitalizations for an abscessed tooth and related complications. An abscessed tooth is a dangerous medical condition that can lead to life-threatening complications and needs to be immediately addressed.

But what is an abscessed tooth? How do you recognize it? And how is it treated?

An Abscessed Tooth Is an Infection

You probably know that tooth decay, also known as cavities or dental caries, is caused by bacteria in your mouth that eat sugars and excrete acids. These acids etch away the surface of your tooth, your dental enamel. When there’s enough of these acids in one place, it creates a cavity. A cavity can shelter more bacteria, which then excrete more acid, enlarging the cavity.

Eventually, a cavity will break through the tooth enamel and the dentin (the next layer of your tooth), into the tooth pulp, sometimes called the nerve. This is the living part of the tooth. When bacteria get inside your tooth, they are even more protected. They will feed on your tooth pulp, take nutrients from your blood supply, and grow.

Once inside a tooth, bacteria can travel through the inside of the tooth root, through the root canals, into the jawbone, your sinuses, and other teeth.

Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth

If you have developed an abscessed tooth, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages that causes lasting pain (a half hour or more)

  • Touch sensitivity in teeth

  • Tooth pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications or persists for days on end

  • Repeated sinus infections

  • Blisters or pimples on your gum

  • Severe discoloration of a tooth

Other times, you may not experience many symptoms at all. The best way to ensure the health of your teeth is to have regular visits to your dentist.

How an Abscessed Tooth Is Treated

An abscessed tooth is treated with a root canal or endodontic procedure. This involves removing the infected material within your tooth and replacing it with an inert substance that can work as a structural support but won’t get infected. Then the tooth is covered with a protective dental crown.

If you suspect you may have an abscessed tooth that needs treating, please contact Ascent Dental in Denver today for an appointment.