Periapical (root-tip) Abscess
A periapical (root-tip) abscess is a pocket of infection
at the base of a tooth's root. The tooth becomes abscessed
after the pulp (nerve) of the tooth becomes infected. A periapical
abscess is usually caused by deep decay or an accident (trauma
to the tooth involving nerve damage). A periapically abscessed
tooth will require either Root Canal
Therapy or an extraction. In some cases an antibiotic
will also be prescribed.
A lateral abscess is similar to a periapical abscess, but
develops along the lateral surface of the tooth's root. In
this case, the infection comes from outside the tooth instead
of from within. A lateral abscess can either be gingival
(located near the gum line) or periodontal (located
deeper in the periodontal tissues). Since most cases of lateral
abscess are due to periodontitis
(gum disease), treatment is part of an overall periodontal
(gum) treatment program.
An abscessed tooth is usually sensitive or painful. The discomfort
is what normally alerts the patient to the problem. Occasionally,
an abscess may be detected on an x-ray
and treated before the patient experiences any discomfort.
Left untreated, an abscess may compromise the immune system
and in some cases may become life-threatening.