What Is an Abscessed Tooth?: Stages, Causes, Risk, Symptoms & Treatments

What Constitutes an Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth signifies an infection occurring in or around its root, forming a pocket filled with pus. This condition can affect individuals across all age groups, from children to the elderly.

Left untreated, this condition does not resolve on its own and requires intervention from a dentist or an endodontist, a specialized dentist focusing on preserving teeth. Failure to address the issue can result in the infection spreading to adjacent areas such as the neck, head, or other parts of the body.

Classification of Abscessed Teeth

Abscessed teeth are categorized based on the location of the infection:

1. Periapical abscess: This type originates when bacteria infiltrate the pulp of the tooth’s root, resulting in a pus-filled pocket around the root. The infection may extend to the root tip and surrounding tissues.

2. Periodontal abscess: This variant initiates in the gums and often manifests as a pimple-like lesion on the gum surface.

Causes of Abscessed Teeth

Despite the hard exterior, the interior of a tooth contains pulp comprising nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels, which can become infected. Common causes include:

1. Deep cavities or tooth decay
2. Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease
3. A cracked tooth

Failure to address the infection promptly can lead to pulp death and subsequent abscess formation.

It’s possible to develop multiple abscesses, with one abscess potentially spreading through the bone and affecting various areas. However, each abscess is associated with a distinct tooth.

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