Abscess Tooth: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Abscess Tooth: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Did you know that an untreated abscess tooth can potentially lead to life-threatening complications? Understanding abscessed teeth is crucial for maintaining overall dental health and preventing serious infections. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the types of abscesses, their symptoms, causes, treatment options, and preventative measures to help you maintain a healthy and pain-free smile.

Key Takeaways

  • Recognize the two main types of tooth abscesses, and understand their associated characteristics.
  • Seek professional dental care if experiencing any symptoms of a tooth abscess to prevent Complications.
  • Good oral hygiene is essential for preventing dental abscesses and avoiding serious complications from untreated cases.

Understanding Abscessed Teeth

A tooth abscess, also known as a dental abscess, is a bacterial infection that causes an abscess is a pocket of pus to form in the affected tooth. It typically manifests in the following areas:

  • Soft core of a tooth
  • Tip of the tooth root
  • Gum
  • Jawbone tissues

There are two main types of tooth abscesses: periapical and periodontal. We’ll explore each type and its characteristics next.

Periapical Abscess

A periapical abscess is one of the most common tooth infections that occurs at the root tip of the tooth, caused by bacterial invasion of the dental pulp through dental cavity or tooth damage. The dental pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth, consisting of nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The bacteria can enter through either a dental cavity or a chip or crack in the tooth, leading to propagation to the root and causing a periapical abscess.

The intense pain and discomfort brought on by periapical abscesses in the affected tooth and surrounding area necessitate prompt dental care. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the mouth, causing further complications.

To diagnose and treat a periapical abscess, your dentist will examine the affected tooth and may take X-rays to determine the extent of the infection. Treatment options include draining the abscess, prescribing antibiotics, and performing a root canal treatment or extraction if necessary.

Periodontal Abscess

A periodontal abscess is an infection pocket that originates in the gums and can potentially spread to other areas of the mouth. Common causes of periodontal abscesses include gum disease, dental trauma, or a foreign object lodged in the gums.

When a periodontal abscess develops, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort
  • Enlargement
  • Inflammation
  • Halitosis (bad breath)

These symptoms can be painful and affect your overall dental health, causing tooth pain and impacting your quality of life.

The treatment protocol for a periodontal abscess includes draining the abscess and tackling the root cause of the infection. Additionally, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help combat the infection and prevent complications. Regular dental checkups and proper oral hygiene can also help prevent periodontal abscesses from developing in the first place.

Recognizing Tooth Abscess Symptoms

Symptoms of a tooth abscess include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Pus buildup
  • Tissue swelling
  • Sharp throbbing pain

These symptoms serve as a clear warning that an infection is present and calls for immediate medical attention. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek professional dental care as soon as possible to prevent further complications, as the infection has spread.

Sometimes, pain relief may occur as the abscess ruptures, allowing the pus to drain. However, this does not mean that the infection has resolved on its own. It is still essential to visit a dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment to ensure the infection is completely eradicated and does not cause further damage to your dental health.

Remember that timely detection and treatment of tooth abscesses can stave off serious complications and help maintain your oral health. Regular dental checkups and paying attention to any changes in your teeth and gums can help you identify and address tooth abscess symptoms before they become severe.

Identifying the Causes of Abscessed Teeth

Abscessed teeth can result from several factors, such as poor oral hygiene, dental decay, gum disease, dental trauma, and specific dental procedures. Bacteria can enter through dental decay or gum disease, leading to the development of an abscess. In some cases, a tooth infection may result from severe cavities, broken or chipped teeth, or gum infections.


Maintaining proper oral hygiene, getting regular dental checkups, and addressing dental issues promptly can help prevent the formation of abscessed teeth. If you suspect that you have a tooth infection or are experiencing any symptoms of an abscess, it is crucial to seek dental care immediately to reduce the risk of complications and preserve your dental health.

Seeking Professional Help: When to Visit a Dentist

Should you experience any symptoms of a tooth abscess, like fever, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, make sure to consult a dentist for diagnosis and treatment. Even if the discomfort has subsided, it is still necessary to seek dental care to ensure the infection is addressed and does not cause further damage.

In some cases, you may need to seek emergency care for fever and swelling. Keep in mind that prompt attention to tooth abscess symptoms is key to averting severe complications and preserving your dental health.


Treatment Options for Abscessed Teeth

Abscessed tooth treated options include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Pain relievers
  • Root canal therapy
  • Extraction

Your dentist will determine the best course of treatment based on the severity and type of the abscess, as well as any underlying dental issues that may be contributing to the infection.

Antibiotics and pain relievers are often prescribed to help combat the infection and manage pain during the treatment process. In some cases, a root canal may be necessary to save the affected tooth by removing the infected pulp and sealing the tooth’s root canal system.

In severe cases where the tooth is too damaged to be saved, surgery or extraction may be necessary. Your dentist will discuss the best treatment options for your specific situation and work with you to ensure your dental health is restored and maintained.


Preventing Dental Abscesses

Maintaining good oral hygiene habits, promptly managing dental decay and gum disease, and addressing dental trauma are key steps in preventing dental abscesses. Brushing your teeth twice a day with hydroxyapatite toothpaste (avoid fluoride), flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental checkups can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which are common causes of abscessed teeth.

It’s also important to manage dental trauma, such as chipped or broken teeth, to prevent abscess formation. Prompt dental care is crucial if you experience any dental trauma or observe changes in your teeth or gums, to prevent abscess development and maintain dental health.

Complications of Untreated Abscessed Teeth

Serious complications, such as infection in the jaw, neck, or sinus cavity, and even life-threatening sepsis may result from untreated abscessed teeth. A weakened immune system can further contribute to the severity of the infection.

Prompt dental care is emphasized by the potential dire consequences of untreated abscessed teeth, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms or suspect an infection. Early detection and treatment can help prevent complications and ensure that your dental health remains in good condition.


In conclusion, understanding abscessed teeth and their symptoms, causes, and treatment options is crucial for maintaining good dental health and preventing serious complications. By practicing proper oral hygiene, addressing dental issues promptly, and seeking professional dental care when needed, you can safeguard your dental health and enjoy a pain-free smile.

Frequently Asked Questions

How serious is an abscess tooth?

An abscess tooth is a serious dental emergency that needs to be treated promptly. It can cause intense pain and swelling, tooth loss, and even life-threatening complications if left untreated. Seeking prompt treatment from a dentist or endodontist is essential to avoid further damage.

How do you get rid of an abscessed tooth?

The most common way to get rid of an abscessed tooth is through incision and drainage and/or a root canal procedure. Your dentist may make a small incision to drain the pus, or perform a root canal to remove the infection and save your tooth. Antibiotics can also be prescribed to help treat the infection.

How do I know if my tooth is abscessed?

Signs of a tooth abscess include severe, throbbing toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, swelling in the face or neck, fever, general feeling of being unwell, and difficulty breathing or swallowing.

How can I treat my tooth abscess at home?

To treat your tooth abscess at home, use a 1:1 ratio of hydrogen peroxide and warm water and rinse your mouth with it.

What is the difference between a periapical abscess and a periodontal abscess?

A periapical abscess is located at the root tip of a tooth, while a periodontal abscess affects gum and jawbone tissues.

Back to blog

Have any questions we didn't cover? We'll get back to you in less than 24hrs 👇🏼