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Clinical Overview

An oral abscess is a bacterial infection with an accumulation of pus or exudate (fluid that drains from an area of infection). Abscesses are often accompanied by acute inflammation with symptoms such as redness, pain, swelling, pus drainage, elevated temperature, or fever.

Abscesses can occur
1. Inside a child's (primary) or adult's (permanent) tooth, in the pulp, or “root canal,” resulting from bacterial infection caused by decay, fracture (broken, cracked or chipped tooth) or facial injury.
2. In the periodontal (gum) tissues that surround and support the tooth root.
3. Around an impacted or erupting wisdom tooth (3rd molar)
4. In the oral soft tissues of the mouth
5. In the alveolar bone - the bone that supports the teeth – bone in both the upper jaw (maxilla) and/or lower jaw (mandible) can be affected.
Abscesses must be taken seriously because the bacteria that cause oral infections are very harmful (pathogenic) and can spread to other parts of the head, neck and body. Untreated oral infections can cause more serious illness, significant tissue damage and even death. Recent studies suggest that untreated chronic oral infections like periodontal disease may contribute to cardiovascular disease, pre-term births, and complicate the treatment of diabetes.

Last updated: Jul-31-06

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