An abscess in the tooth refers to an infection that was caused by a pocket of pus residing in the tissue around the tooth. Abscesses are very serious conditions, and can lead to serious matters if they aren't treated immediately. When the pulp of a tooth dies due to damage or decay, bacteria will begin to grow from the dead tissue that is left. This bacteria will eventually spread from the root of the dead tooth into the tissue that is below and create a pocket of pus - the abscess.
Gum disease is also a cause for a tooth becoming abscessed. Gum diseases causes the gums to pull back and away from teeth, leaving pockets behind. When one of the pockets becomes blocked, the bacteria can grow and spread, or get backed up. When this happens, an abscess will start to form under the surface of the gums and become apparent will swelling as it gets bigger and spreads.
Once the infection has started to spread, your jawbone may start to dissolve as it makes room for the swelling in the area that has been infected. Once the bone starts to dissolve, the pressure will be greatly reduced, although the infection will still be there. Even though you will get relief, the infection will get worse - and the pain will always come back. Once more of the bone has been dissolved, there will be nothing left to support the tooth, meaning that it will become loose and end up needing to be extracted.
The symptoms of an abscessed tooth are easy to see, as they include severe pain in the affected area, red or swollen gums, a bad taste in your mouth, swelling around the area or the jaw, and possibly a high fever. Pain is excruciating with an abscess, normally affecting the area in a bad way. No matter what you do, the pain seems to intensify.
Abscesses mostly occur with back teeth, although they can happen in the front as well. Once your tooth has become abscessed, your dentist won't immediately pull it. If a tooth that has abscessed is extracted once the infection is still present, it can quickly spread. Your dentist will instead prescribe you some antibiotics that can help to destroy the bacteria.
The dentist can also perform a root canal, in an attempt to remove dead or decayed tissue. Last but not least, he can also drill a hole in the tooth to give the infection a chance to drain and try to remove any dead pulp. The most common treatment with an abscess is to use antibiotics to kill the infection, then get the tooth removed. You should never let it get that bad - as an abscess is something that can destroy your jawbone.