3 Types of Dental Abscesses and How They’re Treated

3 Types of Dental Abscesses and How They’re Treated

Plaque is a sticky substance consisting of bacteria, saliva, and leftover food in your mouth. If you have poor oral hygiene and plaque is allowed to build up over time, harmful bacteria can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. 

Eventually, a bacterial infection can develop in the soft tissues of your teeth and gums. You may notice a painful white bump or lump on your gums as this infection grows. This pocket of pus is referred to as a dental abscess. 

Besides severe toothache, dental abscesses can cause other symptoms such as bad breath, facial swelling, tooth sensitivity, swollen gums, loose teeth, and a fever.

If a dental abscess is left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body and seriously threaten your health. At his self-named practice, endodontist Robert Scott Nance, DDS, MS, PA, and the rest of our team use a variety of techniques to treat dental abscesses and save the affected teeth. 

This month’s blog examines the different types of dental abscesses and how we treat each. 

1. Gingival abscess

A gingival abscess is caused by an infection in your gums, and it typically doesn’t spread to your tooth or its supporting structures. This type of abscess happens when you get something stuck in your gums, such as a popcorn kernel or a bristle from your toothbrush. 

In most cases, Dr. Nance can treat a gingival abscess by simply removing the foreign object, draining the abscess of the infectious bacteria, and prescribing antibiotics to eliminate the remainder of the infection. 

2. Periapical abscess

A periapical abscess is the most common type of abscess, and it occurs when bacteria infect the pulp inside the tip of your tooth’s root. 

The pulp contains all of your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. Bacteria can access your tooth’s inner chamber and infect it through a cavity or another crack or break in the surface of the tooth. Once the infection spreads to the surrounding bone, the dental abscess forms. 

When you have a periapical abscess, Dr. Nance starts by draining the abscess and prescribing antibiotics. If the infection is severe, he may need to perform a root canal to remove all the infected tissue from your tooth. In extreme cases, your infected tooth may even need to be extracted.

3. Periodontal abscess

A periodontal abscess starts out as gum disease. As the gum disease develops and worsens, infection sets in around the tissues near the tooth root. If the infection goes untreated, it can spread to the surrounding bone and tissue that support your tooth, leading to the abscess and all its symptoms. 

To treat a periodontal abscess, Dr. Nance drains the abscess and the pocket of infected tissue near the tooth root. He also cleans all the plaque off the nearby tooth — both above and below the gumline. This is a process called scaling, and it makes your tooth completely smooth so bacteria can no longer cling to it, reducing your risk of repeat infections.

If you suspect a dental abscess, don’t wait to have it examined by Dr. Nance to mitigate your risk of serious oral health complications. Schedule an appointment by calling your nearest office location today. We proudly serve the Statesville and Hickory, North Carolina, areas. 

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