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When infectious bacteria attacks the pulp at the center of a tooth, and then spreads down to the roots making a balloon of pus at the tip, this is called a periapical abscess. This can occur when a cavity goes untreated, an injury to the tooth has occurred, or from previous dental surgery.

If left alone, an abscess of this type can actually become life-threatening when the infection is allowed to spread. Choices for treatment of a periapical abscess have a couple of different options all which are dependent upon the seriousness of the infection. First, the pus needs to be drained and the hollow cavity cleaned and sterilized. A root canal may be needed in order to save the tooth. In the case that the tooth is too damaged to be saved, an extraction will occur. While pulling out the tooth is always the least happy of outcomes, your dentist will make sure to cosmetically fix the space with an implant or bridge.

Look for these symptoms of a periapical abscess:

-A sharp, throbbing toothache pain that may extend to the jaw and radiate to the ear or neck.

-If the abscess bursts there will be a sudden relief from pain and a foul taste in your mouth accompanied by the smell of infection.


-Sensitivity to hot and cold, and whenever there is pressure applied on the tooth from chewing.

-Inflammation and swelling of the face and neck.

-Inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck.

If you have a cavity, come see Dr. Sage White before it becomes an abscess. He will be happy to help you. Please contact Gentle Family Dentistry & Orthodontics to make an appointment at: 435-586-9991, or come by our office in Cedar City, Utah.