A tooth abscess, sometimes called a root abscess, is a pus-filled bacterial infection located at the point where the root of a tooth meets the jawbone. Sounds gross, right? Well, it totally is. It's also very painful, and can lead to serious health complications, up to and including death.
An abscessed tooth is one dental accessory you can definitely do without. The best way to avoid dental abscesses is to practice good oral hygiene all of the time. Many tooth abscesses begin with simple tooth decay or gum disease. Over time, these dental problems let bacteria reach deep within teeth and other parts of the mouth.
Abscessed teeth can happen any time bacteria can reach inside of the teeth or gums. This can be because of untreated dental decay, periodontal disease, cracked dental work, or unsuccessful root canal treatment. Even a tooth injury can leave a tooth cracked and vulnerable to bacteria.
If you don't treat an abscessed tooth, tooth damage will become more severe, and the infection can spread. In the worst-case scenario, a dental infection can actually spread to your brain and kill you. (Maybe remembering that your teeth are so close to your brain will help motivate you to take better care of them!)