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An abscessed tooth, also known as a periapical abscess, is a pocket of pus (a thick, yellowish fluid) in a tooth caused by an infection. This can develop when the nerve of the tooth is dying or dead. It happens on the tip of the tooth’s root and spreads out. If the pus is not drained, the area surrounding it becomes more swollen and painful. To keep the bacterial infection from spreading, your body creates the abscess to form a barrier around the infection.

What you should know about an abscessed tooth:

–Signs that you have an abscessed tooth include really bad breath, bitter taste in the mouth, a feeling of illness and general discomfort, fever, pain, swollen neck glands, and red or swollen gums.

–It can be caused by severe tooth decay, a tooth injury, or gum disease.

–It is usually, but not always, painful.

–If it is not painful, and the abscess is left without treatment, the infection can last for months or years. They don’t go away on their own.

–Infections left untreated can eventually damage the surrounding area—the bone, teeth, etc. and can spread to other areas of the body, destroying tissue.

–The body can form a tunnel through the bone and skin to let the pus drain out. This is sometimes called a fistula or sinus tract. If this happens and you have pus draining out, you might experience an unusual taste in your mouth.

–Although the draining may reduce the pressure of the abscess, you will still need to treat the infection.

Your dentist will look for the abscess to find out where the abscess originated and then clean it out. If the infection is in a tooth, your tooth will be drained by a hole and you will receive a root canal treatment, and either a filling or a crown. If the abscess in the tooth is large it may need to be extracted. You will also receive antibiotics to heal the infection.

It is important to pay attention to the signs in your mouth to ensure good oral health, and keep all dental exams and cleaning appointments to rule out dental health issues. Dr. Truong Nguyen is happy to help you with any of your oral health needs. Please call our Always Dental Care team in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania at 484.392.7687 and let us help keep you smiling!