An abscessed tooth may sound like a pain, but in reality you could easily have one and never know it. So, what causes them, how are they fixed, and what are the repercussions? As Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar explains, an abscessed tooth occurs when the nerve tissue surrounding the tooth has become necrotic, or died. This can happen for a number of reasons, including infection or trauma, and because of the death of nerve tissue, an individual may not recognize they have an abscessed tooth since they won’t experience the sensitivity they otherwise would with intact nerves.
“When teeth die – and people have dead teeth in their mouth all the time without realizing it – they won’t feel the typical things that they otherwise would, things like heat, cold, or pressure,” says Bhatnagar. “If you do feel pain in the mouth near a tooth, oftentimes this can be the early signs of an infection at the end of the root which is causing the pain.”
Any early signs of decay such as these should be inspected sooner rather than later as to avoid death of nerve tissue and ultimately an abscessed tooth. Gum disease can also be a contributing factor toward tissue decay, as bacteria underneath the tooth can create infection, damaging pulp and leading to the buildup of pus. Depending on the severity of an abscessed tooth, a dentist may choose various treatments, but most often abscessed teeth are treated with a root canal.
Though it may be difficult to tell whether you have an abscessed tooth or not due to lack of nerve tissue, the symptoms leading up to generally include pain and swelling, redness of gums, or a foul taste in the mouth around the affected tooth.