Conditions,  Health,  Procedures

Abscessed Tooth Extraction (Pulling Tooth with Abscess)

Key Facts

  • An abscessed tooth is characterized by a pus-filled pocket caused by a bacterial infection in different regions of the tooth or gum
  • The condition can manifest in various forms, such as periapical abscess (at the tip of the root) or periodontal abscess (in the gums at the side of a tooth root)
  • Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include severe pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, swelling, a foul taste in the mouth, and fever
  • Left untreated, an abscessed tooth can lead to the spread of infection, which can have serious health repercussions
  • Extracting an abscessed tooth without professional supervision can exacerbate the condition and poses significant health risks
  • There are various treatment options available that focus on eliminating the infection, preserving the tooth, and preventing future complications

Dental health is an integral component of overall well-being. Among the various dental issues that individuals may face, an abscessed tooth stands as one of the more serious conditions. An abscessed tooth is an infection within a tooth that has spread to the root tip or around the root. This infection originates from the tooth’s inner chamber, which is called the pulp chamber. Pulling a tooth, or tooth extraction, refers to the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. While extraction is sometimes necessary, it is crucial to approach this option with caution, especially in the case of an abscessed tooth.

Dangers of Pulling an Abscessed Tooth

Pulling an abscessed tooth without the supervision of a dental professional poses several risks:

  • Spread of Infection: Improper extraction can lead to the spread of infection to adjacent teeth and tissues or, even worse, into the bloodstream (septicemia) – when the tooth is removed, there is a risk that the bacteria causing the abscess may be released into the bloodstream or surrounding tissues.
  • Incomplete Removal: There is a risk of leaving parts of the tooth or infected material behind, which can exacerbate the infection.
  • Loss of Bone: The absence of a tooth can lead to loss of bone in the jaw. This bone loss can affect the structure of the face and the alignment of other teeth.
  • Damage to Surrounding Tissues: Without the proper tools and expertise, there is a risk of injuring the gums, neighboring teeth, or even breaking the jawbone.
  • Pain and Swelling: Improper extraction typically causes severe pain and swelling, which can be even more intense than the discomfort caused by the abscess itself.
  • Dry Socket: A common complication of tooth extraction is a dry socket. This occurs when the blood clot that normally forms after extraction is dislodged or dissolves, exposing the bone and nerves. This is particularly painful and can cause a delay in healing.
  • Difficulty in Eating and Speaking: Removing a tooth, especially a molar, can cause difficulties in chewing. Depending on the location of the extracted tooth, speech may also be affected.
  • Psychological Trauma: The experience can be extremely traumatic without the proper anesthetic and care, especially for children and anxious individuals.

How to Treat an Abscessed Tooth

Effective treatment of an abscessed tooth aims to eliminate the infection, save the tooth, and prevent complications. Various treatment options include:

  • Immediate Measures: If you suspect you have an abscessed tooth, it is crucial to see a dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relievers can alleviate discomfort, and rinsing with warm salt water may help ease pain.
  • Antibiotics: If the infection is limited to the abscessed area, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria.
  • Drainage of the Abscess: In some cases, particularly if the abscess is large, the dentist may make a small incision to drain the pus and will clean the area with saline. This often provides immediate relief from pain.
  • Root Canal Treatment: If the infection is within the tooth, a root canal may be necessary. This procedure can often save the abscessed tooth. During a root canal, the dentist will drill down into the tooth, remove the diseased central tissue (pulp), and drain the abscess. The tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals are then cleaned, filled, and sealed.
  • Tooth Extraction: In severe cases where the tooth cannot be saved, extraction may be necessary. However, this should be a last resort, and proper protocols must be followed to prevent complications.
  • Post-treatment Care: After the treatment, it is essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices to prevent future infections. Regular dental check-ups are also crucial.

What Are the Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?

Recognizing the symptoms of an abscessed tooth early is key to prompt and effective treatment. This condition involves an infection in or around the tooth, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe
The symptoms associated with an abscessed tooth include:

  • Severe, Persistent Toothache: One of the most common symptoms is a throbbing pain in the tooth or gum, which may radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear. The pain might intensify when you are lying down or putting pressure on the tooth while eating.
  • Sensitivity to Hot and Cold Temperatures: An abscessed tooth may result in increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, and sometimes even to the touch.
  • Sensitivity to Pressure: Pain when biting down or applying pressure to the affected tooth.
  • Facial Swelling: Swelling in the face, cheek, or gums around the infected tooth is another common symptom. The gum may also have a raised bump, which could be the abscess itself.
  • Fever: As with other infections, a fever may develop, indicating that your body is fighting the infection.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: Swollen or tender lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck.
  • A Foul Taste in the Mouth or Bad Breath: You might experience a bad taste in your mouth or bad breath. Sometimes, there’s a foul-smelling, salty fluid in your mouth, which comes from the draining pus.
  • A Visible Pus-Filled Pocket: A small bump that resembles a pimple on the gums near the infected tooth.
  • Difficulty Opening Mouth or Swallowing: In severe cases, the infection can cause difficulty in opening your mouth or swallowing.

What Are the Dangers of an Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth is not just an oral issue; it poses significant risks to overall health if left untreated.

  • Spread of Infection: One of the major dangers of an untreated abscessed tooth is the spread of infection. The infection can spread to adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or other areas of the body.
  • Dental Abscess Rupture: An abscess can rupture, causing a sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting discharge in the mouth. Although this may relieve pain, it’s essential to seek dental care as the infection is still active.
  • Tooth Loss: As the infection progresses, it can lead to the loss of the affected tooth and even the surrounding teeth.
  • Systemic Infection (Sepsis): In severe cases, the infection can spread into the bloodstream, causing sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition.
  • Dental Cysts: The abscess can lead to the formation of cysts which can damage the bones and roots.
  • Compromised Eating and Speaking Abilities: Pain and swelling may make it difficult to eat and speak normally.
  • Compromised Oral Health: An abscessed tooth can compromise your overall oral health, making your mouth more vulnerable to gum disease and other dental problems.

Bottom Line

The symptoms include pain, sensitivity, swelling, and fever, among others. If left untreated, the dangers of an abscessed tooth are significant, including the spread of infection, tooth loss, and even life-threatening systemic infections. While pulling an abscessed tooth is sometimes necessary, it should be approached with caution due to the associated dangers. Self-extraction is highly discouraged due to the serious risks involved. Awareness of the symptoms is essential for early detection. There are various treatment options available that focus on eliminating the infection and saving the tooth. Consulting a dental professional for proper diagnosis and treatment is imperative in handling this condition, as it not only safeguards oral health but is quintessential for general health.

This article is complete and was published on August 15, 2023, and last updated on August 25, 2023.

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