Abscessed Tooth (cont.)

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How is an abscessed tooth diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually achieved based on clinical symptoms or radiographic presentation. An X-ray can reveal bone loss along the ends of the dental roots indicating an infection or abscess. Clinical examination can also confirm the infection and may include pressure tests or simulation of the dental nerve with temperature (sensitivity to warm or cold foods or fluids).

How is an abscessed tooth treated?

Once a tooth has an abscess, the treatment options consist of root canal therapy to clean and remove the infection or tooth extraction. Root canal therapy is a predictable and usually pain free procedure. If a wisdom tooth is involved, most commonly the tooth is removed. The prognosis for an abscessed tooth is good, especially if caught early. A dental professional may opt to place the patient on antibiotics at the time of treatment in order to prevent the infection from spreading further within the soft and hard tissue. Antibiotics are not always indicated and usually are prescribed at the discretion of the treating doctor. Warm compresses and pain management with anti-inflammatories are the best home remedies; however, the infection cannot be properly or fully addressed without seeing a dentist. Do not place aspirin directly over the gum tissue, this can lead to direct damage of the surrounding tissue.

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