Dental Tips Blog


The Aches of an Abscess

Posted in Root Canals

There’s a small pimple-like blister on your gums, just next to where the root of your tooth would be. What is it? It may drain and come back, or just leave a sore that does not go away. Accompanying this fistula may cause severe tooth pain, aches in the area, or more severe swelling in that part of the mouth. This dear friends, is a dental abscess.

What causes an abscess? Abscesses are due to infection caused by tooth decay that has reached deep into the pulp tissue inside of the tooth. Once bacteria have contaminated the pulp, it also becomes infected. Unlike open tooth decay, a closed canal through the root of the tooth does not have an easy access to drain infection, which causes it to extend down and out the tip (apex) of the root, and then through the soft tissues until an abscess is formed on the gums.

To treat an abscess, pulp therapy is needed, such as a root canal (adults) or a pulpotomy (children.) This removes the infected nerve tissues, tooth decay, and eliminates the cause of infection, preventing it from returning. If the abscess is severe, the dentist may need to treat the patient with antibiotics to reduce the extent of infection before treatment is performed. Unfortunately, antibiotics do not remove tooth decay, so abscesses can easily return if the tooth is not treated professionally. This can lead to permanent tooth loss and spread of infection to other areas of the mouth. Thankfully, nerve and pulp therapies are an everyday occurrence in many dental practices, and are a proven method for eliminating abscesses and restoring non-vital teeth.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental



Treatment for a Dead Tooth

Posted in Root Canals

Even though our teeth are covered by a hard enamel exterior, they are not “injury proof.” In fact, the interior or center of our teeth is made up of a soft living tissue of blood cells and nerves, called the “pulp.” This soft tissue, then, is very vulnerable to injury that could result in damage to the tooth nerve. When this nerve dies, the surrounding tissue needs to be removed before an infection or abscess can develop.

There are really only two main options for the treatment of a dead tooth. If the exterior structure of the damaged tooth is severely decayed, broken, or disfigured beyond repair, then the entire tooth can be extracted. However, if the structure of the tooth is still intact and salvageable, a root canal can be performed to save the tooth. While the inside pulp of a tooth is vitally important to the development of our teeth, once the teeth reach maturity in an adult, there is no longer a need for the pulp and the healthy structure can remain functional without it.

A root canal, regardless of its bad reputation, is really a simple procedure for cleaning out the soft, dead, material of the inner tooth in order to restore and save the exterior structure of the tooth. Because the interior nerve of the tooth is already dead, there is not usually much discomfort with the root canal procedure.

Should you choose to have your damaged tooth extracted, you may want to consult with your local dental professional about cosmetic replacement options. In cases where a root canal is a viable option, such teeth are usually covered after that procedure by a crown to give it additional strength and support.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental


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