A dental abscess is a painful and unsightly condition that can occur when the tooth or gum becomes infected. This infection causes a pocket of pus to form around the affected area and, if left untreated, can cause extreme pain and other more severe problems.

It helps to know when you might be at risk of a tooth abscess and what warning signs to look out for. This article highlights a few times when you might develop a dental abscess and how you can prevent it from happening.

When There Is an Untreated Dental Cavity

When you don't treat a dental cavity, it exposes the inner layers of the tooth, specifically the dentin. In severe cases, the tooth pulp can become infected, causing bacteria to spread throughout your mouth. The pulp contains nerve endings, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The bacterium that thrives in the mouth can easily infiltrate these exposed inner layers, multiply, and cause an infection.

In the initial stages, the affected tooth may not present any symptoms. However, as the cavity progresses and the bacteria reach the pulp, it can cause toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold foods, and swelling in the gum tissue surrounding the tooth.

If you still don't treat the infection, it can spread from the pulp to the tooth's root and into the surrounding bone tissue. This expansion of the infection can lead to a periapical abscess, a type of tooth abscess. This abscess will likely cause extreme pain and swelling in the area.

When You Develop Severe Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is another leading cause of dental abscesses. It starts as gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup. When left untreated, this mild form of gum disease can progress to periodontitis.

This more advanced stage involves the formation of pockets between your teeth and gums, providing a conducive environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply. Over time, these bacteria can spread deeper into the tissues and bones surrounding the teeth, leading to an infection.

If the infection gets worse, it can cause an abscess known as a periodontal abscess. Unlike a periapical abscess that starts at the tooth root, a periodontal abscess occurs in the gum next to the tooth root, often resulting from a bacterial infection in the pocket of the gum.

This abscess is characterized by swollen and red gums, a bad taste in the mouth, and severe pain that can extend to the ear, jawbone, and neck.

A dental abscess can be a severe and painful condition, but it's also preventable with good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your dentist. If you brush and floss regularly and treat any cavities or gum disease on time, you can avoid developing a dental abscess. If you do develop an abscess, see a qualified dentist who can offer treatment to stop the infection and get you back on track for good oral health.

For more info, contact a local dentist's office