A dental abscess is a painful infection that is often found near the tooth root or along the gums near a tooth. If they develop, a tooth experiences significant decay down to the pulp, or a break could also be the cause.
In other cases, if the infection originates in the gums, severe gum disease might be the culprit.
Only your dentist will be able to identify the exact cause of the abscess, and this information will be important in identifying the best possible treatment options.
The method that your dentist recommends for your abscessed tooth will vary depending on the original problem and the severity of the infection. In many cases, you'll need to take antibiotics prior to the treatment, but this isn't the end of it.
Antibiotics will only temporarily reduce the abscess, so one of the following additional steps will be needed:
Drainage, especially if the abscess is well-developed and full of pus.
Curettage and drainage if the abscess originates in the gums.
Root canal if the abscess is found inside of the tooth. After the root canals are cleaned and sealed, a crown will need to be placed to fully restore and protect your tooth.
If for some reason you do not want to have a root canal completed, your only other option will be to extract the tooth. Keeping the abscess in your mouth or simply treating with antibiotics is not an option, as allowing the infection to remain can cause some serious health consequences.
While keeping your natural teeth is always the first choice, if you do have to have a tooth removed due to an abscess, you should know that there are a variety of great restorative options available including dental implants and bridges. You'll also want to make changes to your oral hygiene routine so that you can prevent this condition from occurring again in the future.