Various factors can damage the dental pulp since it is the most vulnerable area for bacteria and other micro-organisms. A tooth is the hardest region in the human body and is meant for chewing and crushing of food particles. Periodontitis, cavities, tartar, plaque, tooth abscess and sensitivity are some of the major problems that occur in teeth. Bacteria can attack the dental pulp area causing tooth abscess. Bacteria can easily gain access through a chip or crack in your teeth penetrating deep inside the root of a tooth. This subsequently can cause swelling and pain in the infected tooth.
Tooth abscess is nothing but collection of pus and debris matter in the pulp of the teeth. Normally the body’s defense mechanism would fight off the bacteria and destroy them. But when the conditions become unfavorable, and bacteria grow in large numbers it can effectively attack the pulp chamber growing on the dead white blood cells and other debris.
Tooth abscess develop when the bacteria invades the soft decayed pulp of the tooth occurring due to decay of tooth and broken tooth. Root canal treatment if not done properly can also cause tooth abscess.
There are various types of tooth abscess and some of them are listed here.
- Periodontal abscess is one in which the bacterial infection occurs in the periodontal pocket.
- Gingival abscess occurs when the gum tissue gets affected and pericoronal abscess develops when the tissues in the crown of teeth gets affected.
Many people can develop sharp staggering pain on the affected tooth due to abscess. The pain gets severe when one eats or drinks hot/warm foods. The area surrounding the infected tooth can develop swelling.
Some of the other signs of tooth abscess include sensitivity of the teeth while eating and brushing, bad breath, swelling of cheeks in the affected region and swollen lymph nodes of the jaw or neck region. In severe cases mild fever can also occur. Often people who have developed tooth abscess describe the pain as persistent shooting pain.
Abscess Tooth Causes :
A cavity in the tooth is the major cause for tooth abscess. Sometimes the perforation (cavity) becomes big enough decaying the inner pulp chamber. Toothache and tooth abscess can develop due to inflammation of the tooth or pulp chamber.
For some people, when the pulp chamber gets decayed, it may give rise to tooth abscess. When the blood supply gets cut off to the pulp, it would die automatically. Decaying and death of pulp (pulpitis) can cause irreversible damage to the pulp leading to tooth abscess. Here the tooth becomes necrotic but the pulp can still be saved if the infection is not deeper.
- Trauma or injury to the tooth and harsh dental treatment like that of root canal can also cause injury to the pulp causing tooth abscess.
- Wisdom teeth are highly prone to develop tooth abscess when compared with other teeth.
- Poor dental hygiene and improper brushing of teeth can cause tooth decay and abscess.
- Eating high sugar diets and candies can be a reason for dental cavity and tooth abscess.
- Weakened immunity and chronic diabetes can lead to dental infection and abscess.
- Your dentist would examine the tooth paying close attention to decayed one. He may check for sensitivity of the tooth by gently tapping your teeth on its root.
- He may order for X-ray to know how far the infection has spread inside.
Treatment of tooth abscess lies in destroying the infection and protecting the pulp. Your dentist would gently make a small incision on the infected pulp to drain the pus inside. He may gently wash the area with saline lukewarm water. In case of severe decay, root canal treatment would be done. This is the best way to save the decaying tooth. It might take couple of sessions.
The dentist would drill down the infected tooth to remove the decayed pulp completely and drain off the pus inside. In the subsequent session he would fill the pulp chamber with paste like material and a cap would be placed on it to make it strong. By root canal treatment, the tooth decay can be totally prevented for the rest of your life.
If root canal approach is not suitable then your dentist would have no choice except removing the infected tooth and remove the abscess. Oral antibiotics are prescribed if the infection is severe and preventing it to spread further. For mild pain and discomfort in the tooth, you can gargle with salt water which is effective in decaying bacteria and preventing pulp decay. OTC pain relievers like Tylenol and similar drugs can be taken. Children should not be given more of sweets and candies to avoid tooth abscess. It becomes difficult to save the primary teeth if it gets infected.
- Prognosis of tooth abscess depends on the severity of infection. For people with localized infection complete recovery of the tooth is possible.
- If the infection is severe and has spread to nearby jawbone probably your tooth would be removed to prevent further spread of infection.
How To Prevent ?
- Practice good dental hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily.
- Avoid taking sugar related foods which increases the chance of tooth abscess.
- Regular checkup with your dentist is necessary to prevent tooth decay.
- Avoid drinking acidic juices like lemon juice and cranberry juice regularly, since it can harm your teeth.
- Avoid snacking in between regular meals and avoid binge eating.
- Limit usage of alcohol and smoking.
Home Remedies For Abscess Tooth :
- Salt Water – Salt is a natural antibiotic which helps in destroying bacterial infection. If you have toothache and discomfort, add one tsp of table salt in a cup of lukewarm water and gargle this solution several times a day.
- Garlic – Garlic juice is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent which helps in clearing off the pus and reduces swelling. Place the crushed garlic on the infected tooth for few seconds and rinse with warm water.
- Clove Oil – Clove oil has antiseptic properties to give relief from pain. Dip a cotton ball in clove oil and apply it on the infected tooth. Leave it for few minutes before rinsing. Alternatively, you can chew whole cloves via infected tooth so that the juice can effectively cure the infection.
- Oil Pulling – Take few drops of coconut oil and pull it thoroughly for few minutes. Now rinse the teeth with lukewarm water. Repeat this process 2-3 times a day.
- Sesame Seeds – Add 1-2 tsp of sesame seeds to a cup of warm water and apply this mixture to the infected tooth.
- Apple cider vinegar, baking soda, calendula, hydrogen peroxide and turmeric can also serve as effective home remedies for tooth abscess.