If you don’t know what an abscess in the teeth means or never had it, consider yourself lucky! A tooth abscess is an advanced stage of tooth decay. It is extremely painful and invites a host of other tooth diseases. But your teeth do not become abscessed overnight; it is part of a long process. So how does it get there?
The process of tooth decay usually begins when the enamel starts to break down, and creates cavities i.e. holes or pockets on the surface of the teeth. Further, when the tooth structure comes in contact with bacteria, it causes acidic damage and plaque (a sticky coat formed by the interaction of saliva, and leftover food and sugary particles in the mouth). Here’s a detailed breakdown of the stages of tooth decay that cause abscessed teeth:
- Stage 1: White Spots
- Stage 2: Enamel Decay
- Stage 3: Dentin Decay
- Stage 4: Pulp Infection
- Stage 5: Abscess Formation
When chalky white areas appear on the surface of the teeth, it marks the first stage of tooth decay. This occurs due to plaque-accumulation and loss of calcium. The bacteria in the plaque starts to break down the enamel, which is called demineralization of the tooth surface.
This is the stage where the enamel underneath the teeth’s surface breaks down and is further damaged. Since the natural remineralization is unable to restore the lost nutrients, lesions start to form within the teeth. If the decay persists, then the teeth can break irreversibly.
Dentin is the part of the teeth located between the enamel and the pulp. At this stage, the decay spreads to the dentin and causes sharp pain in the infected tooth. The enamel collapses at this point and forms a cavity. This is when a dental filling is required to treat the infected tooth.
The pulp is the center of the tooth. If the pulp is affected, it creates pus that kills blood vessels and nerves in the infected teeth. At this stage, there is often constant pain and severe toothache. This is when a root canal treatment is recommended.
It is the final stage of tooth decay and the most painful. This is when the infection reaches the root tip of the tooth, putting the conjoining bones at risk of infection as well.
If the infected tooth has reached the abscess formation stage, these are the dental abscess symptoms you must look out for:
- The tongue and the gums swell up.
- Speech might be affected.
- There might be other oral diseases.
- Severe, sharp pain which is constant.
A tooth abscess is an advanced form of decay that needs expert treatment. These tooth abscess symptoms should be taken very seriously. Ideally, dental abscess treatments must begin early when the enamel starts to break down, as at that stage the damage might still be reversible. If this stage is skipped, you can still restore the tooth with the help of a dentist. In case the tooth abscess formation stage is reached, additional oral surgery needs to be performed, other than the root canal procedure. If advanced tooth abscess treatment is not performed at this point, then there will be tooth loss.
The best way to avoid reaching this stage is to take preventive measures. Establishing a proper dental care routine will go a long way to prevent tooth decay. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft or medium bristle Oral-B toothbrush to remove all the plaque and leftover food particles. Use a dental-recommended mouthwash, and floss afterwards. If managed early on, you can prevent your teeth from getting decayed and abscessed. Use superior-quality dental products such as Oral-B electric toothbrushes to make sure your teeth get the best treatment.