A tooth abscess is an oral infection which occurs either in the tooth root or near the crown. Here is a quick guide to how this condition is treated.
The abscess is drained
An abscess is a pus-filled sac. The fuller this sac becomes, the more pain a person will experience.
As such, one of the first things a dentist will usually do when treating a patient with this condition is drain this sac. The release of the fluid inside the abscess will immediately reduce the amount of pain the patient is in.
If the abscess is located in an easy-to-access area (such as next to the crown of the affected tooth, for example), the dentist will simply use a sharp dental tool to break the membrane of the fluid-filled sac. Following this, they will then use another dental instrument to scrape off any residual pus.
If the abscess is located inside the tooth root, the dentist might have to cut open the gum in order to access and drain the sac.
The infected pulp is removed
A tooth abscess often results in the pulp (the substance inside the root canal system that is comprised of living connective tissues) inside the tooth root becoming infected. In this situation, the pulp must be removed.
If it is not, the infection will continue to spread and the entire tooth may then have to be extracted.
The process of removing infected pulp from the tooth's root canals is referred to as root canal treatment. This procedure involves several stages, the first of which involves creating an opening in the crown, which enables the dentist to access and extract the pulp.
Following this, they will use a variety of dental tools to scrape the pulp out of the root canals. After the majority of the pulp has been removed, these canals will be rinsed out with a sterilising solution or plain water, to ensure that no harmful bacteria are left behind.
When this stage is finished, they will seal up the hole that they initially made. If this hole created a large fracture in the crown, the dentist may arrange for this part of the tooth to be removed and for the patient to have an artificial crown fitted in its place at a second appointment.
If after performing the root canal procedure, the dentist is concerned that the infection may have spread to other tissues in the patient's mouth, they may also provide them with antibiotics.
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