Abscessed Teeth Q&A
What is an abscess?
An abscess is an infection inside or surrounding the root of a tooth. This typically causes some discomfort but not always. Abscesses develop when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed and infected and it’s left untreated. The most frequently experienced symptom is an ache in the bone surrounding the tooth. However, patients may also notice pain when chewing and inflammation of the gums. If the pain is persistent or an abscess is suspected, see the endodontist.
How are abscessed teeth treated?
An abscess is treated with a root canal or endodontic surgery if the issue is more severe. An endodontist will clean out bacteria and infected pulp from the canals within the tooth, shape the canals, fill them will a rubber-like substance, and seal the space. If needed, an apicoectomy may also be performed to clear out infected bone tissue. Patients will have a crown placed over the top of the treated tooth to protect it.
How do I take care of an abscessed tooth which has undergone a root canal?
Once the root canal is complete, patients will need to schedule an appointment to have the restoration device, usually a crown, placed on the tooth. Between visits patients should adhere to the following:
- Do not eat until the numbness in your mouth has gone away. This will keep you from biting your tongue or cheek.
- Do not chew or bite on the treated tooth until a restoration has been placed on the tooth.
- Brush and floss teeth as you would normally.
- If the opening in the tooth was restored with a temporary filling material, be aware that it is not uncommon for a thin layer of the filling to wear off between visits. If you believe the entire filling has come out, visit the endodontist right away.
Contact the endodontist immediately if you develop:
- A visible swelling inside or outside of the mouth.
- An allergic reaction to any medication including a rash, hives, or itching.
- A return of painful or irritation symptoms
- An uneven bite
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