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How can I stop infection in my gums that lead to abscess? I can not afford to have all of my teeth replaced. I was told to get a root canal but I don't see how that will stop the infection.

Dental abscesses are commonly diagnosed as one of two types: dental abscesses (infection in the tooth) or periodontal abscesses (infection in the gums). Often, the 2 are very similar in appearance since both create swelling and pain in the gums.  If you have a dental abscess, the tooth which is causing the infection is no longer alive, so you will feel no pain or swelling in the tooth, only in the gums around it. The infection is usually centered at the tip of the root of the tooth and a root canal is necessary to remove the source of the infection.  Periodontal abscesses are infections which develop in the gums around teeth, often in teeth which have bone loss around them and deep pockets of gum which are difficult to clean. To remove this type of infection, routine deep cleanings and perhaps gum surgery to reduce the pocket will be necessary. If the tooth has had extensive bone loss to the point where it is very loose, sometimes it is necessary to extract the tooth, though I do not believe that is necessary in your case.
Please do not hesitate to ask your dentist why he/she believes your tooth needs a root canal. If tests show that your tooth is no longer vital and an x-ray shows the source of infection is a particular tooth, then root canal therapy should eliminate your infection! If you have a periodontal abscess, it will be important for you to have a thorough dental cleaning and to follow up at home with excellent oral hygiene and perhaps a higher strength mouth rinse which your dentist can prescribe.


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Last revised: December 06, 2004.