A tooth abscess occurs as a result of a bacterial infection. It is a buildup of pus that collects inside the teeth, gums, or jawbone.
Tooth abscesses may arise in any of your teeth and are very common in emerging wisdom teeth. A wisdom tooth abscess can be detrimental to your oral health and is considered a dental emergency. Know the signs of a wisdom tooth abscess so you can get to an emergency dentist quickly for oral care.
Causes of a Wisdom Tooth Abscess
A tooth abscess typically occurs when bacteria infect the dental pulp located in the centre of a tooth. It consists of cells, blood vessels, nervous elements, and connective tissue.
A wisdom tooth abscess is often treated as a dental emergency. If the infection isn’t caught early, it can spread to nearby teeth, jaw, and other areas around your head and neck. It can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening medical condition in some cases. An abscess may also rupture, causing significant discomfort.
The most common causes of a wisdom tooth abscess include:
Impacted wisdom tooth
The moment a wisdom tooth penetrates the gum is known as an eruption. Since wisdom teeth usually erupt in your late teens or twenties, they must compete with the existing permanent teeth for space in your mouth. If your mouth isn’t big enough to accommodate erupting wisdom teeth, you’ll likely experience dental crowding. This causes the wisdom teeth to twist, resulting in impaction.
An impacted wisdom tooth doesn’t fully erupt or may erupt at a misaligned angle. It can contribute to a dental emergency by forming a cyst or causing damage to the neighbouring molars.
In many cases, impacted wisdom teeth don’t cause direct problems. However, because they don’t fully erupt, they can be challenging to clean, leading to plaque and food debris buildup. When bacteria feed off food debris, it may penetrate the impacted tooth, giving rise to an infection known as pericoronitis. This can eventually lead to an abscess.
Poor oral health habits
Failing to maintain proper oral health habits can increase your risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth abscesses. Tooth decay erodes the protective enamel on the surface of your teeth, making them vulnerable to infection. If cavities develop, harmful bacteria may seep into openings, reaching the pulp and causing an abscess.
Gum disease, or periodontitis, is an infection that attacks the oral tissue surrounding the teeth. If left untreated, it can progress into the deeper tissues of the mouth and potentially access the dental pulp.
Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist biannually reduces your risk of oral health-related issues considerably. If you notice a cavity or gum inflammation, immediately schedule an emergency dentist appointment.
Sugary and acidic foods and drinks are a leading cause of dental cavities. They strip minerals from the tooth’s enamel, weakening its outer layer. Over time, the tooth starts to decay and a cavity forms. Harmful bacteria may penetrate the tooth’s surface and enter the pulp chamber, leading to an abscess.
Accidents and injuries also cause abscesses. A chip or minor crack may be enough of an opening for bacteria to enter your tooth and spread to the pulp. Significant trauma may even damage the dental pulp without causing your tooth to crack. If your tooth is impacted by injury, consider visiting an emergency dentist.
Symptoms of a Wisdom Tooth Abscess
Detecting early signs of a wisdom tooth abscess may reduce the risk of a serious dental emergency. Look out for common signs of infection, such as:
- Discomfort in or around your wisdom teeth
- Discomfort along the side of your face or jaw
- Inflammation or redness of the gums
- Discomfort when chewing
- Discomfort when brushing
- Bad breath
- Issues opening your mouth
- Inflamed lymph nodes
- Tooth sensitivity
- Discharge from the tooth or surrounding gums
If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately contact an emergency dentist. Failing to treat the infection means bacteria continues to spread, damaging your teeth and gums and eventually affecting other parts of your body.
How to Treat a Wisdom Tooth Abscess?
If you detect signs of an abscess, call to schedule a dental emergency appointment with one of the experienced dentists at Radiant Smiles Dental. We understand that emergencies can arise unexpectedly, so we cater to emergency dentist calls. After examining and diagnosing your wisdom tooth abscess, we may recommend one of three treatments:
If the infection hasn’t spread beyond the pulp chamber or gum, we may be able to drain the site by making a small incision. We sanitise the infected area with a saline solution to ensure no remnants of infection remain. You may also require antibiotics to eliminate the infection from your system.
Root canal treatment
Root canal treatment is an effective way to get rid of the infection in a fully developed wisdom tooth.
This process involves removing the infected dental pulp, cleaning the infection site, and filling it with a biocompatible material to prevent further infection.
It is usually resealed with a filling if the tooth remains intact.
A root canal may not be recommended for growing teeth as they rely on healthy pulp to develop.
If the tooth cannot be saved or your dentist determines it is likely to cause further infection in the future, we may recommend extraction. Using industry-leading technology, we provide chairside wisdom tooth extraction from our practice. Your dentist administers a local anaesthetic to ensure the procedure is as comfortable as possible. Once your dentist removes the tooth, they can advise you on aftercare.
Count on Radiant Smiles Dental Group for Your Dental Emergency
If your wisdom teeth negatively impact your oral health, consult your dentist about treatment to avoid a dental emergency. At Radiant Smiles Dental, our experienced team uses the latest techniques and cutting-edge equipment to treat wisdom tooth abscesses.
For more information on your wisdom tooth abscess treatment, give us a call us on (03) 9000 0537 or book an appointment using our online system.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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