An abscessed tooth is an infection in or around the tooth. The infected tooth has a pocket of pus in the tissue next to it. This often occurs because the inside (pulp) of a tooth is infected and the bacteria spread to the tissue underneath the tooth. An abscess usually causes throbbing pain in the tooth and red, swollen gums. A number of stages exist in the development and progression of a tooth abscess.
Some of the symptoms of abscess include; a fever, pain and a bad taste in the mouth. The bad taste is as a result of a ruptured abscess which releases a foul-smelling and foul-tasting fluid, which is pus.
If a cavity isn’t treated, the inside of the tooth (called the pulp) can become infected. Bacteria can spread from the tooth to the tissue around it, creating an abscess. Gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets. If food builds up in one of these pockets, bacteria can grow, and an abscess can form. Over time an abscess can cause the bone around the tooth to dissolve. You can lose your tooth or have other health problems.
Understanding the exact infection stage can help to deal with the tooth abscess effectively. Let us see the description of the various stages of tooth abscess below.
Stages Of Tooth Abscess
A tooth is a calcified structure which contains three layers – enamel, dentin and pulp. Enamel is the hardest and protective layer surrounding the tooth.
Beneath the enamel, dentin consists of living tissue and tubules which communicate with the teeth nerve. Pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth which contains nerves, blood vessels and pulp cells.
Stage 1: White Spots
The first stage of tooth decay begins when chalky white areas on the surface of the tooth appear due to the loss of calcium and build-up of plaque. Bacteria in the plaque then begins to metabolize sugars from food consumed. The buildup of these acids causes tooth enamel to deteriorate, a process referred to as demineralization of the tooth surface. At this phase, tooth decay might still be reversible with the proper treatment––which should be discussed with your dental professional, such as using appropriate brushing technique, a fluoride toothpaste, and applying a topical fluoride treatment.
Stage 2: Enamel Decay
Though enamel is the hardest part of the tooth, it can chip, crack and wear away. Accidents, acid refluxes, excessive soft drink consumption and alcohol consumption can lead to enamel erosion. A cavity occurs when food particles or foreign substances enter in to the enamel. You can observe discoloration of the tooth in this stage. Proper hygiene, balanced diet and topical healing applications can help restore your tooth.
Stage 3: Dentin Decay
The cavity tunnels its way in to the tooth and reach the inner dentine layer. At this level, tooth becomes sensitive to the cold and hot temperatures. At this stage doctor suggests restoration that includes drilling, cleaning and filling with composite.
Stage 4: Pulp Decay
Further to the dentin layer, the cavity now reaches its way into the pulp causing infection. The blood vessels, nerves and pulp cells slowly die. In this stage the pain becomes severe and constant. At this stage doctor suggests a root canal treatment.
Stage 5: Pulp Infection or Tooth Abscess
When the pulp is completely destroyed, the body defense mechanism develops pus to trap the infection from spreading into the blood stream. This pus filled swelling is referred as tooth abscess. The pain becomes severe and you can observe swelling and redness on the jaw and neck. At this stage a dentist recommends a tooth extraction.
Can You Save an Abscessed Tooth?
It depends on the severity of the infection and the stages of tooth abscess. If the infection is not spread home remedies are effective to relieve the pain. But when it has spread to the root of the teeth then your doctor will drain out the infection. Your doctor will fill the gap with dental fillings. If the infection has spread beyond then the tooth will have to be extracted to avoid further complications.
Tooth abscess is an infection of teeth and surrounding structures with a collection of pus inside it. You could have an abscessed tooth and show no symptoms at all or you could experience symptoms such as pain and swelling in the affected area and jaw.