Even though a tooth infection that turns into an abscessed tooth often comes on suddenly and leads to a tooth pain that is unbearable, there is usually a long history of neglect of dental hygiene and a lack of regular check-ups with the dentist, which eventually leads to this dental emergency. This can come from a crack in the crown of a tooth that allows infection to go into the pulp and the root of the tooth. Any defect in the dentin encasing of the pulp and the root canal will allow mouth bacteria to cause an infection of the pulp and the apex of the tooth (located at the bottom of the tooth).
This leads to swelling of the gum tissue around the abscessed tooth. There may be a foul odor, throbbing pain and pain with chewing. Hot or cold food items will make the pain worse and the pain will linger on even later. There can also be a fever and the regional lymph glands may be swollen. The dentist confirms the presence of an abscessed tooth by inspecting, palpating and tapping. An x-ray confirms the abscess at the bottom (apex) of the tooth.
Antibiotics and pain medication is given initially. If the abscess is too far gone, the dentist will have to do a tooth extraction. However, if the tooth can be preserved, the cause of the infection has to be identified and treated. This could have come from a defective filling with further tooth decay or from a crack in the crown of the tooth from grinding the teeth. At any rate, the infected pulp and nerve in the root canal has to be removed as described under “pulpitis and root canal infection”. After the systemic infection has been cleared, the dentist likely will suggest attaching a crown of gold or porcelain to add stability to the top of the tooth.
1. Suzanne Somers: “Breakthrough” Eight Steps to Wellness – Life-altering Secrets from Today’s Cutting-edge Doctors”, Crown Publishers, 2008