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Most dental patients have heard of an abscessed tooth — and many people fear that they might be experiencing one whenever they feel pain in their mouths.

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection, which is usually the result of tooth decay, periodontal disease or a cracked tooth. These problems allow bacteria to enter the pulp, which is the soft tissue inside a tooth that consists of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. The intruding bacteria can cause pulp death.

When this occurs, pus begins to accumulate in the jaw bone at the tip of the tooth root. The resultant pus pocket is called an abscess.

If the abscess is not treated, it can lead to a serious infection in the jaw bone, teeth and surrounding tissues. If you’re suffering from an abscess, you could experience pain, swelling, redness in the gums, a bad taste in your mouth and even a fever.

Depending on the severity of the infection, there are a few different approaches to treating an abscessed tooth.

Most of the time, an abscessed tooth is treated by draining the pus and ridding the infection. Antibiotics are used to destroy the bacteria causing the infection. And if the abscess is a result of gum disease, then the space between the tooth and the gum is thoroughly cleaned.

If the abscess is caused by tooth decay or a cracked tooth, then the infected tooth receives root canal therapy. And unfortunately, in some cases the tooth might need to be extracted.

If you’re experiencing pain in your mouth, swelling, redness in the gums — or any of the symptoms described above, please call 479-756-8631 to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help.