Tooth Abscess

A dental abscess is caused by an infection spreading to the bottom of the tooth’s root resulting from previous tooth decay, direct trauma to the tooth, or a spreading gum infection. You will experience a severe continuous toothache.  The infection has to be removed by root canal therapy or removing the tooth. If the gums are involved in the cause of the abscess deep cleaning may also be necessary.

Advice: See your dentist immediately to have the dental abscess drained. The dentist will explain the different ways in which this can be done. Do not attempt to drain the abscess at home!

Tooth Abscess FAQs

What is a tooth abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus that can form at the apex (bottom) of the tooth. This swelling can cause pressure to build up around the area which can be very painful and uncomfortable. There may even be a draining sinus where the collection of pus has got so large that the pus is discharging into the mouth giving a bad taste.

What are the signs of tooth infection?

Swelling, tenderness, tooth pain on biting and touching the tooth, as well as pain to hot and cold stimuli are good indicators of tooth infection. If there is a big cavity in the tooth or there has been some kind of trauma, where the tooth has broken or cracked, this can be a clear cause of the tooth infection as the bacteria have been able to travel through the tooth right into its pulp and nerve, infecting it.

What is the treatment for a tooth abscess?

Root canal therapy is the most common treatment for a tooth abscess. This is the physical removal of the nerve of the tooth and any infection inside the root canal system. It is then sealed off with a filling material, preventing any further infection and tooth abscess from occurring.

To bring quick relief of the tooth pain, tooth abscesses can be lanced and drained by making a small cut in the gum where the abscess is. This will remove the pus as well as relieve the pressure in the area. Antibiotics can also be used in the short-term to help with the symptoms and clear away some infection.

In extreme cases the tooth can be extracted but then treatment options for replacing the gap need to be explored further with your dentist.

Can antibiotics alone treat tooth abscesses?

They can help bring relief with the symptoms and clear away some of the infection, but they will not physically remove all the infection that is present. So without further treatment, such as root canal therapy or tooth extraction, the problem is likely to occur again in the future.