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If you are suffering from an abscessed tooth, or periapical abscess, then you are experiencing a pocket of pus (a thick, yellowish fluid) caused by a bacterial infection in your tooth. How does this happen? An abscessed tooth can arise when the nerve of a tooth is dying or dead, and develops on the tip of the tooth’s root and spreads out. If the pus is not drained, the tissue area surrounding it becomes more swollen and painful. To keep the bacterial infection from spreading, your body’s defense mechanism kicks in, and reacts by creating the abscess to form a barrier around the infection.

An abscessed tooth can involve the following:

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

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

–An abscessed tooth is often, but not always, painful.

–If the abscessed tooth is not painful, and the abscess is left without treatment, the infection can last for months or years. It doesn’t go away on its 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.

–Your body may form a tunnel through the bone and skin to let the pus drain out, known as a fistula or sinus tract. If this happens and you have pus draining out, you might have an unusual taste in your mouth.

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

If you have an abscessed tooth, our dentist will find out where the abscess originated and then clean it out. If the infection is within a tooth, your tooth will be drained by a hole and you may need a root canal treatment, followed by 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.

You don’t need to let an abscessed tooth stop you from having good health. Pay attention to the signs in your mouth, keep all scheduled dental exams and cleaning appointments, and don’t hesitate to come in if you notice anything unusual going on. You can reach Dr. Henritze’s team in Roanoke, Virginia at (540) 989-6600.