Dental Abscess

What is a dental abscess?

A dental abscess is a collection of pus that can form in the teeth or gums as a result of the bacterial infection.

There are two types of abscess:

  1. Periapical abscess – when bacteria infect the inside of the tooth as a result of decay.
  2. Periodontal abscess – when bacteria infect the gums.

What are the causes of a dental abscess?

A dental abscess occurs when bacteria infect and spread inside the tooth and your gums. The bacteria responsible for this are found in plaque. Periapical abscesses are much more common than periodontal abscesses.

A periapical abscess occurs as a result of the plaque bacteria infecting the tooth as a result of the dental caries (tiny holes in the teeth).  The bacterium infects the pulp of the teeth until it reaches the bone that surrounds and supports your tooth, at this point the periapical abscess forms.

A periodontal abscess occurs when plaque bacteria affect your gums, causing gum disease (also known as periodontitis). Periodontitis causes inflammation of the gums which can make the tissue that surround the root of your tooth separate from the base of your tooth.  This separation creates gaps known as periodontal pockets, these are very difficult to keep clean, and therefore bacteria can build up and spread.  If this occurs, a periodontal abscess can form.

What are the treatment possibilities?

It's important when treating a dental abscess to cut out the abscess and drain away the pus that contains the infectious bacteria. Treatment does differ slightly.

  • If you have a periapical abscess, the abscess may be removed using the root canal treatment. Root fillings prevent any further infection.
  • If you have a periodontal abscess, your dentist will drain it to release the pus and thoroughly clean out the periodontal pocket.  Your dentist will then smooth out the surface of the tooth to prevent any build up of further infection.

A dental abscess should always be looked at by your dentist so the appropriate treatment can be carried out.

Please contact us if you require any further information.