Tooth Abscess and Treatment

A tooth abscess occurs when an opening in the tooth enamel allows bacteria to infect the pulp of the tooth.  This opening in the tooth is caused either by tooth decay or tooth trauma, such as a broken or chipped tooth.  The infection in the tooth can spread to the root of the tooth and even to the bones that support the tooth, as well. 

When an abscess occurs, the main symptom is a severe toothache.  The pain associated with this type of toothache is usually sharp, throbbing and continuous.  However other symptoms of a tooth abscess can include, fever, chewing pain, sensitive teeth, swelling gum over the infected tooth, breath odor and swollen glands of the neck and upper or lower jaw.

When suffering from any of these symptoms, see your dentist immediately.  Your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth, mouth and gums and may take x-rays to confirm which tooth is infected.

Treatment of an abscessed tooth includes antibiotics to fight the infection, over-the-counter pain relievers and, if necessary, prescription strength pain relievers.  If possible, your dentist will perform a root canal to save the abscessed tooth.  However, if the infection is too severe, he may need to both remove the tooth and drain the abscess.

It is extremely important to seek care for an abscessed tooth promptly as the infection can lead to complications that include tooth loss, blood infection, spread of the infection to other areas of the body which can result in endocarditis, pneumonia, brain abscess and other serious complications. 

To prevent a tooth abscess, visit your dentist regularly.  Twice yearly check-ups by your dental professional will treat dental caries before they can escalate into abscesses.