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Dental infections can occur just about anywhere inside and outside the oral cavity, and a more serious, yet treatable form of infection that may appear inside the mouth is called a dental fistula.

What Is a Fistula?

When a dental infection occurs, the bacteria are surrounded by white blood cells that try to surround the infection, which usually results in swelling in and around the site of infection. Occasionally, the pressure produced by the swelling finds an area of weakness in the soft or hard tissue and creates a pathway from the infection, to the gum tissue.

How Is It Diagnosed by a Dentist?

When a patient notices a pimple-like bump on soft or hard tissue in the mouth, they will likely call a dentist for an examination, and the patient may or may not be in pain. During the exam, X-rays will be taken of the affected area, and the severity of the infection will likely show up on the images. The dentist will locate the dental fistula during the intraoral and extraoral examination. The infection itself may appear to the patient as a bump filled with a whitish material called pus, and it may also have blood products mixed in upon pressing the area.

What Does the Dentist Do to Treat Fistula?

If the dentist diagnoses a dental abscess associated with the dental fistula,  root canal treatment is advised to treat infection, according to the American Association of Endodontists. In a few cases, the dentist may have to remove the material in the fistula to help with the healing. An antibiotic may also be prescribed, usually for a maximum of two weeks.

A follow-up exam within a week or two will likely be scheduled to check how the healing is coming along, and further dental treatment will be planned if needed.

In summary, a dental fistula usually arises due to a long-term dental condition, and the treatment is a relatively simple process. Prompt attention to the problem will ensure a successful result, and the patient can then continue to maintain their oral health.