Kenneth W. Arida, DDS, PC
131 South Euclid Ave, Westfield, NJ 07090

Understanding Dental Abscesses: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

April 30, 2024

Dental abscesses can be a source of confusion and concern for many people. In simple terms, a dental abscess is a buildup of pus at the base of a tooth or adjacent to it in the area between the tooth and gums. This occurs due to bacterial infiltration inside the tooth or periodontal tissues.

While a dental abscess may appear small, if left untreated, it can lead to severe discomfort and a more widespread infection that can compromise your oral health and overall well-being. At Kenneth W. Arida, DDS, PC, we believe in providing our patients with the knowledge they need to understand their oral health conditions and make informed decisions about their care.

Differentiating Between Periapical & Periodontal Abscesses

There are two main types of dental abscesses: periapical abscesses and periodontal abscesses. A periapical abscess occurs at the end of your tooth’s root and can result from an untreated cavity, recurrent decay, or injury that affects your tooth’s inner vital tissues. Each situation makes your tooth vulnerable to bacterial infiltration and damage that can ultimately affect the tooth's nerve and vital tissues, causing them to die. Once this happens, the resulting infection can lead to an abscess with pus accumulating at the root tip.

In many cases, a root canal treatment with antibiotic therapy will address the source of your periapical abscess, prevent further infection, and preserve your tooth. However, you may require getting the tooth extracted in cases of extensive structural damage, supporting bone loss, and other considerations.

Addressing Periodontal Abscesses

Although also caused by bacterial infiltration, a periodontal abscess typically occurs alongside the tooth. It usually happens when dental plaque and food debris get left around the teeth and gums. This accumulation triggers an inflammatory process that causes the pocket or gap between the teeth and gums to worsen, making it even harder to clean. Pockets that trap bacteria and debris can lead to an abscess. If left untreated, a periodontal abscess can cause a larger infection, pain, bone loss, and tooth loss and even pose consequences to your overall health.

Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms of a Dental Abscess

If you notice a gum bubble in the area below the base of your tooth’s root or between your teeth, experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, contact our office for care:

  • Persistent, severe, throbbing toothache and pain that radiates to the jawbone and neck
  • Sensitivity to hot
  • Sensitivity to touch or biting pressure
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Tender, palpable, inflamed lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • A palpable bubble-like lesion between the teeth or below the teeth
  • Foul smell or taste

Why Prompt Attention & Treatment are Essential

In all cases, the key to protecting your health is getting the prompt attention and care required. When left untreated, a dental infection can quickly become more serious and have severe consequences. Emergency medical attention is required in cases of severe swelling, high fever, or difficulty breathing.

At Kenneth W. Arida, DDS, PC, our dedicated staff are committed to providing you with the highest quality care for all your dental needs. If you suspect that you may have a dental abscess, don't hesitate to contact us for an appointment. Our experienced team is here to help you maintain optimal oral health and overall well-being.

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131 South Euclid Ave
Westfield, NJ 07090