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Dental Fistula: What Is It?

Dental Fistula (1)

A dental fistula might sound scary and mysterious, but a body attempts to heal itself. Don’t worry; we’ll break it down for you. This blog post will explain everything you need to know about dental fistulas, including what they are, what causes them, the symptoms to watch out for, treatment options, and how to prevent them from forming in the first place, especially with Dentistry in Surprise AZ.

Dental Fistula

What is a Dental Fistula?

A dental fistula is a new, abnormal channel that develops in the gum tissue to drain pus (infection) from an underlying abscess. An abscess is a localized collection of pus that forms due to a bacterial infection. In the case of dental fistulas, the abscess typically originates from a tooth or gum infection.

What Causes Dental Fistulas?

Several factors can contribute to the formation of a dental fistula. Here are the most common causes:

  • Poor oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing regularly removes plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums. If you neglect oral hygiene, bacteria can build up, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. These infections can eventually develop into an abscess and a fistula.
  • Dental cavities: Cavities are holes that form in your teeth due to tooth decay. Left untreated, cavities can become infected, leading to an abscess and fistula formation.
  • Gum disease: Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (severe gum infection) can also contribute to dental fistulas.
  • Dental trauma: A cracked tooth, chipped tooth, or injury to the gum tissue can create an entry point for bacteria, leading to infection and potentially a fistula.

Previous dental work: In rare cases, a fistula can develop as a complication following dental procedures like root canals or tooth extractions

Symptoms of a Dental Fistula

A dental fistula itself might not always be painful. However, you might experience some of the following symptoms:

  • A small bump or pimple-like lesion on the gum tissue, often near the affected tooth
  • Pus drainage from the bump
  • Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
  • Lingering unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Discomfort or throbbing pain in the affected tooth or surrounding area
  • Swollen gums
  • Facial swelling in severe cases
  • Fever (in some cases)

Why is a Dental Fistula a Concern?

While a fistula might seem like the body getting rid of the infection, it’s essential to seek professional dental help for several reasons:

  • Underlying infection: The fistula is a sign of an underlying infection that needs to be addressed. Leaving it untreated can allow the infection to spread to other parts of the mouth, jawbone, or even your bloodstream, leading to serious health complications.
  • Bone damage: An untreated abscess can damage the jawbone supporting the tooth.
  • Tooth loss: If the underlying cause of the fistula is a severely infected tooth, it might need to be extracted to prevent further complications.

Treatment Options for Dental Fistula

Treatment for a dental fistula will focus on addressing the underlying infection. Here’s what a dentist might recommend:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics will be prescribed to fight the bacterial infection.
  • Drainage: The dentist might need to drain the abscess to remove the pus and relieve pressure.
  • Root canal therapy: If the infected tooth has a live nerve, a root canal procedure might be necessary to remove the infected pulp and save the tooth.
  • Tooth extraction: In severe cases where the tooth is extensively damaged or the infection is too advanced, tooth extraction might be the only option.
  • Surgery: In rare cases, surgery might be needed to address complex infections or repair damaged jawbone.

Preventing Dental Fistulas

The good news is that dental fistulas are mainly preventable with good oral hygiene practices. Here are some tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque and bacteria between teeth.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings (at least twice a year) for professional cleaning and early detection of any dental problems.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Limit sugary foods and drinks contributing to tooth decay.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products: Smoking weakens the immune system and increases the risk of oral infections.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you participate in contact sports to protect your teeth from injury.


A dental fistula is a signal that something is wrong in your mouth. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent complications. If you notice any signs of a dental fistula, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your dentist. With proper treatment and good oral hygiene practices.

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