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Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess can be the cause of an incredibly uncomfortable, throbbing toothache and if left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems. 

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that's caused by a bacterial infection, around a tooth. They can cause a lot of discomfort and lead to further complications in your mouth. You will often experience severe toothache with an abscess which can also refer pain in your jaw, neck or ear. Many people also experience swelling and sensitivity around their teeth and gums. The most important thing to do if you think you may have a tooth abscess is to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a tooth abscess

A tooth abscess can be very painful. That's because an abscess is actually an infection of the tooth. And if left untreated abscesses can lead to very serious problems.

As well as severe, uncomfortable toothache, you might also experience sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, sensitivity or pressure when chewing, a fever, swelling, a foul taste fluid in your mouth and you might even have difficulty breathing or swallowing.

See your dentist as soon as possible if you have any signs of a tooth abscess. If the symptoms are severe either make an emergency dentist appointment immediately or visit your nearest A & E.

Causes of a tooth abscess

Anyone that has ever had a tooth abscess will know how painful and uncomfortable they can be. And they definitely won't go away without treatment. That's why it's so important to see your dentist as soon as you can. 

A tooth abscess is caused by an infection around the root of a tooth, when bacteria attack the dental pulp. They are usually the result of an untreated cavity, a dental injury or from prior dental work.

There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of a tooth abscess, these include:

  • Dental decay
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Impacted wisdom teeth

Risk factors that may lead to or exacerbate dental diseases that causes abcesses include:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • A high sugar diet
  • Smoking
  • Dry mouth
  • Diabetes and some other systemic diseases

Get prepared

When you book at one of our dental practices for a problem with your teeth or mouth, you want answers and advice as soon as possible. That’s understandable. It’s useful to think ahead about what your dentist will need to know to diagnose and treat you.

Generally your dentist will ask you about your medical history and then thoroughly examine your mouth, teeth, gums, jaw, tongue, throat, sinuses, ears, nose and neck. You may also need an x-ray, depending on what your dentist suspects might be the cause of your problem.

Your dentist may ask you some questions, such as:

  • Do you have any pain?
  • Where do you feel pain?
  • How bad is the pain?
  • Have you been experiencing any sensitivity?
  • Have you had a fever or any swelling?
  • Have you had difficulty breathing or swallowing? 
  • How do you think the tooth abscess occurred?
  • What is your dental routine at home?
  • Have you made any changes recently?

Think about your answers to these questions before your appointment. Being prepared can speed up the diagnosis.

Have questions?

If you think you might have a tooth abscess you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. A tooth abscess require professional treatment and it won't go away on its own. Treatment of a tooth abscess may involve draining the abscess to remove the infection. In many cases dentists can treat your tooth by performing a root canal. However, in more advances cases the tooth may need to be extracted. You should never leave a tooth abscess untreated as it can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening problems.

A tooth abscess will not go away on its own. They require specialised treatment by a dentist or specialist. If left untreated a tooth abscess can cause serious issues. We recommend booking an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. If you're experiencing unbearable pain make sure you choose an emergency appointment when you book online.

Tooth abscesses are often caused by untreated cavities,gum disease, impacted wisdom teeth, injuries or from heavily filled or broken teeth. The abscess forms when bacteria enters the dental pulp (the inner part of the tooth), causing pain, infection and inflammation. Poor dental hygiene and care, too much sugar consumption or dry mouth and smoking may all contribute to the formation of abscesses.

In many cases a tooth abscess can be prevented. It's important to maintain a nutritious, balanced diet and take good care of your oral health. That means a combination of at-home dental care and building a great relationship with your dentist.

We recommend a healthy lifestyle, regular self-care and regular visits to the dentist. For optimum oral health:

  • Practice good oral hygiene habits at home including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day
  • Book hygiene visits with a dental hygienist or oral health therapist twice each year
  • Book routine exam and x-rays visits with your dentist at least once each year

The Lumino Dental Plan is a cost-effective way to ensure your oral health is given the priority it deserves. It’s an affordable ongoing subscription plan that keeps you on top of your oral health. We know that when you look after your oral health properly with regular preventative care, you’ll be less likely to need to see a dentist in an emergency. You’re also likely to spend less money at the dentist over time.

We get it. We’re New Zealand’s largest group of dentists so we’ve seen more scared patients than any other dental practice in the country. For most people who are scared about visiting the dentist it’s because they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Relax. Our gentle and compassionate dentists understand how you feel. Whether you’re anxious or worried about experiencing more pain or the potential cost of the treatment, the best thing to do is to let us know how you feel. Making sure you feel comfortable is part of our job.