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Abscessed Tooth

Abscessed Tooth Facts

An abscessed tooth is a dental condition in which the nerve, also referred to as the dental pulp, has become infected. The infection usually occurs when a dental cavity (tooth decay) goes untreated and spreads deep within the tooth. The infection can also occur from a broken or cracked tooth where the dental pulp is exposed to the oral environment. The bacteria that cause an abscess can spread down the length of the roots and into the surrounding bone tissue. Some dental professionals also consider an infection between the gum and tooth root a tooth abscess. Additionally, the dental nerve can be susceptible to necrosis (infection) after a crown or large filling are completed. The closer the dental treatment approaches the dental nerve the more likely the nerve can become affected. The dental nerve can be variable in size and infection after dental treatment is usually not the fault of the dentist. Teeth that are directly subjected to dental trauma (for example, from a fall or from a hit by a projectile such as a baseball) should be immediately examined by a dental professional.

Picture of an abscessed tooth.
Picture of an abscessed tooth.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/25/2015

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