Abscessed Tooth

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If you’ve landed on this page, chances are that you or a loved one is experiencing an unwelcome and uncomfortable problem – an abscessed tooth.  Discomfort in the tooth, jaw or gum happens to millions of people each year and can vary from minor swelling or a toothache to something more serious requiring dental surgery.  Determining what you are experiencing is very important, and a diagnosis can only come from a licensed dental practitioner.

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth occurs when you experience tooth decay or gum disease and bacteria creates an infection deep in the tooth or gum.  The bacteria spread to the tissue surrounding the tooth or gum and create an infected pocket, or abscess.

Tooth Abscess Causes

Dental Symbol - Abscessed Tooth

There are several things that cause an abscessed tooth, including:

  • Prior damage to the tooth such as a cracked or broken tooth left untreated
  • An untreated cavity in the tooth
  • Gum disease

If a tooth has been damaged and not properly treated, it creates an opportunity for bacteria to grow in or around the tooth and in turn affect previously healthy tissue.   In the case of an untreated cavity the center of the tooth, often called the “pulp”, can become infected.  Bacteria from this infection spread to the surrounding tissue and create an abscess.  Gum disease on the other hand causes the gums to pull away from the teeth slightly, creating crevices and pockets that easily trap food.  That food is then hard to remove by brushing or flossing and if left in the pocket forms bacteria, in turn creating an abscess.

In any of these cases if an abscessed tooth is left untreated it may result in tooth loss or bone loss around the tooth as the abscess dissolves the bone.
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