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Abscessed Tooth

A dental condition wherein the nerve or the dental pulp (inner part of tooth) gets infected is termed as abscessed tooth. The bacterial infection in the inner part of the tooth leads to collection of pus. Following a good oral hygiene regimen many help preventing dental abscess.

Tooth abscess types

Periodontal: occurs in the supporting bone and tissue structure of the teeth.

Periapical: found in the dental pulp.

Gingival: occurs in gum tissue, does not affect tooth or periodontal ligament.


Abscessed tooth causes


  • A dental cavity when left untreated leads to spread of infection deep within the tooth and this may cause abscessed tooth.

  • A broken tooth or cracked tooth can also cause abscessed tooth as the dental pulp is exposed to the environment.

  • An infection between the gum and root of the tooth can also cause tooth abscess.

  • Gum disease can also cause abscessed tooth.

  • Gingivitis can also cause abscessed tooth.

  • Trauma to tooth or mouth.

  • Weak immune system.

Abscessed tooth symptoms

Typical symptoms of an abscessed tooth include swelling, toothache, bad breath, inflammation of the gum tissue, sensitivity in tooth and swollen neck glands. A dentist will physically examine it and might order a tooth xray.

Abscessed tooth treatment

Abscess is drained through the procedure of root canal. A crown is placed on the tooth to protect it. Affected tooth may be extracted. Incision into the swollen gum may treat the condition. Antibiotics prescribed prevent infection and pain relievers help relieve pain.

Dental Abscess prevention

Brush teeth twice a day. Eat a balanced diet low in sugar. Use dental floss to clean in between teeth. Visit dentist for regular dental check. Use fluoridated drinking water.

Herpetic Whitlow

Herpetic Whitlow is a painful skin infection of the hand and fingers. In this condition, the base of the nail or pulp of the finger is afflicted with a small painful abscess that are pus filled. This skin infection is caused by Herpes simplex virus. It is characterized by intense pain in the affected finger. While herpetic whitlow usually begins in one finger,the other fingers soon get affected. In severe cases, the person may lose the affected nail or suffer disfigurement of the finger. There is intense pain when the abscess bursts. There may be itching, swelling and tenderness in affected area.

Secondary infection can lead to fever and swollen glands in the armpit. Herpetic Whitlow tends to affect housewives whose hands are wet for long periods due to washing and cleaning. It is also noticed among healthcare workers. Use of latex gloves while working with cleaning agents, scouring powders and detergents can help in keeping this infection at bay. Children and adults must keep the hands clean and dry. Herpetic whitlow is treated with oral anti viral agents such as Acyclovir. Topical steroid creams or ointments are applied.


Orbital Cellulitis

Orbital Cellulitis is an inflammation or infection of the eye socket or orbit. As such, the orbital septum is a fibrous membrane that separates the eyelid skin from the deeper structure of the orbit. Since the orbit has direct connection with the sinuses, infection can spread into the orbit in a patient with a sinus infection. Of the two – preseptal cellulitis and orbital cellulitis – the latter is potentially more serious. Both conditions are common in children and adults.


It is very difficult to distinguish between the two as in both the conditions; the eyelids are red and swollen. However, in preseptal cellulitis the eyes move normally and are positioned normally whereas in orbital cellulitis, there is a restriction of eye movements and the eye might appear protruding more than normal. There could be decrease in vision and pupil reaction also.

Causes for orbital cellulitis include sinusitis, trauma or foreign body, infection from blood and tooth abscess. An imaging study is done to evaluate the spread of the disease beyond the orbit, other than blood tests for infection.


Consultation is done with an ophthalmologist and ENT specialist. Treatment includes admission to the hospital for close observation and intravenous therapy with antibiotics. Immediate treatment with intravenous antibiotics is necessary to prevent optic nerve damage and spread of infection to the cavernous sinuses, meninges and brain. Penicillinase-resistant penicillin, such as nafcillin, is recommended, along with metronidazole or clindamycin to treat anaerobic infections. Surgery to drain the orbital and sinus infection may become necessary if the condition of the patient worsens. Patients are regularly monitored for any evidence for loss of vision and pressure on the optic nerve.


Orbital cellulitis can cause complications if the infection spreads to the surrounding tissue and worsens the illness. If it spreads to the brain, then brain abscess, meningitis or hydrocephalus may result. These require intensive care and emergency surgery. But orbital cellulitis responds to proper treatment and there is generally complete recovery.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: September 19, 2019