Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a treatable dental infection, and perhaps more common than you may think. An abscess can lead to a more serious infection and is a very important reason to get that toothache checked out immediately by your Spokane Dental team. When you have a toothache or oral pain it is helpful to understand what may be happening below the surface:

What is an abscess?

An abscess is an infection in the jawbone under the tip of the root of a tooth characterized by a pocket of pus. A cavity in the crown of the tooth left untreated can make its way through the hard surface of the enamel and into the soft inner part of the tooth (pulp) that houses the nerve. A cavity is a bacterial infection, and once that infection hits the innermost part of the tooth, it can travel down along the nerve into the jawbone, forming a pocket of pus. The infection can often be seen on an X-ray, as pictured above. The pocket of pus shows up as a dark halo under the tooth root on x-ray imaging. As you can see, an abscess greatly compromises not only the integrity of the tooth but the bone surrounding it and the teeth next to the abscess.

How do I know if my toothache is an abscess?

It is always a good idea to get your toothache checked out immediately. The sooner a cavity or problem is caught, the more easily treatable and better outcome after treatment.

Some signs and symptoms your toothache may actually be an abscess (in addition to pain):

  • Bad taste or noticeable drainage
  • Fever or fever like symptoms
  • Feeling pressure or swelling
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Redness around the area (check gums below tooth as well)
  • Swollen lymph nodes under jaw and in neck

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call us today to schedule with one of our dentists to diagnose the issue and make a treatment plan to get you feeling better!

How is an abscess treated?

At Spokane Dental we have advanced CT imaging that can show us a 3-Dimensional image of any area in the mouth. This is especially helpful when it comes to dental infections, as we can pinpoint the area affected and treatment plan accordingly. Depending on the abscess, there are several treatment options. Some possibilities include:

  • Oral Antibiotics: Antibiotics are not prescribed with every dental abscess. If the infection is isolated to the tooth affected, antibiotics may not be necessary. Imaging will show whether the infection is spreading or compromising other teeth, which may indicate the need for oral antibiotics along with taking general health into consideration. Our doctors treat each patient and dental problem individually.
  • Draining the Abscess: The pus from abscess may need to be drained by a dentist.
  • Treating the Tooth: The tooth will also need treatment, which varies case by case. In some instances, a root canal will be performed to remove the infected soft tissue in the pulp cavity of the tooth. The root canal fills the inside of the tooth and seals it with a crown to protect it from future issues while still maintaining function and aesthetic. In other cases, it may be necessary to extract (or pull) the affected tooth. Your Spokane Dental team will walk you through all options based on the exam and imaging findings.

We know how miserable it is to have a tooth ache, and we strive to make each dental visit as stress free as possible. Your Spokane Dental team wants to help you walk out the doors healthier, happier, and pain free! Call us today at (509) 822-5614 to schedule an appointment!