It’s caused by a bacterial infection.
When an abscess is located at the end of a tooth, it is called a periapical abscess. Periapical abscesses form at the tip of a tooth’s root. This sore cannot be seen because it happens inside the tooth. Untreated abscess at the root can spread bacteria and infection to surrounding bone.
When the abscess is located in the gum, it is called a periodontal abscess. Periodontal abscesses form in the space between a tooth and the gums. The presence of bacteria in the gums can lead to serious periodontal disease if not addressed quickly enough.
These two common types of abscesses are generally the result of untreated cavities or poor dental health in general.
A dental abscess can form in a matter of a few days. This infection does not go away on its own. Without treatment, an abscess can continue for several months, possibly even years. Most abscesses cause intense tooth pain, indicating to a patient that prompt treatment is needed. Yet, some abscesses do not cause pain, but can be
If not treated, an abscess can lead to additional problems.
- Fistula, or an opening through the bone and tissue that allows pus to drain. Fistula can leave an odd taste in the mouth.
- Cysts can also develop from a dental abscess. Like the abscess itself, a cyst is a fluid-filled sac. From a dental abscess, a cyst may form in the jaw bone. Surgery may be needed to remove it.
- Sepsis. This is the most severe and concerning consequence of a dental abscess. If the abscess drains without intervention from a dentist, infection can spread to the mouth and the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the infection becomes sepsis, a systemic infection that can affect the heart, the brain, and all other organs.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that may require hospitalization and aggressive treatment.
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