Tooth Abscess Causes picture treatment

Tooth Abscess: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Are you experiencing tooth pain? Then, you may have developed tooth abscess. It is a condition caused by a bacterial infection. The infection can develop in different areas of your tooth. The underlying reasons can influence the area where the abscess develops. The bacteria triggering infection can result in pus accumulation. It can lead to swelling of your tooth. As a result, you experience excruciating pain. You need to seek medical help to treat the infection. The abscess in your tooth may not go away with home remedies. So, never wait to get proper treatment.

What Is Tooth Abscess?

Tooth Abscess

The infection caused by the bacteria can result in the buildup of pus inside your teeth or gums. The infection mostly affects the soft pulp of the tooth. The pus accumulates when the bacteria from the plaque affect your teeth. Plaque is the sticky looking film that builds up on your teeth. The soft film has millions of bacteria in it. The bacteria in the plaque can cause several dental problems like tooth decay as well as gum disease. So, you need to remove the sticky film regularly by brushing and flossing. Without proper oral care, you can experience bacterial infection, which can spread to gums or the soft tissue of your tooth. The infection ultimately results in an abscess.

Tooth Abscess

You need to see a specialist doctor like a dentist to treat the dental problem. When you get the treatment early, your doctor can drain it to offer you relief. When you fail to seek treatment at the right time, the infection damages your tooth or spreads to other areas of your body. It needs proper treatment to prevent life-threatening complications.

Symptoms Of Tooth Abscess

When you develop an abscess in your tooth, you can experience some signs. The symptoms you develop due to the tooth abscess are:

  • Severe and persistent toothache
  • The pain radiates from your tooth to jawbone, ear or neck
  • Experience sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures
  • Sensitivity to pressure while biting or chewing food
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or under the jaw
  • Facial swelling or swelling in the cheek
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble swallowing

The abscess can rupture resulting in a sudden rush of foul-tasting and foul-smelling fluid in your mouth. You can experience a salty taste when the fluid gushes into your pain. After the rupture, you can experience the pain easing. It is important to see a doctor as soon as you experience tooth pain.

The condition becomes serious when you see swelling in your face or suffer from fever. If you cannot see a dentist, then go to the emergency room. Trouble breathing or swallowing also requires immediate medical assistance. The symptoms indicate you are experiencing the spread of infection. The infection can spread deeper into the jaw, surrounding tissue or other parts of the body.

Types Of Tooth Abscess

Depending on the area infected by bacteria, you can classify the abscess into three different types. So, the types are:

Gingival Abscess

The bacteria affect the gum tissue. So, the abscess does not affect your tooth or the periodontal ligament.

Periodontal Abscess

Periodontal Abscess

The abscess starts developing in the supporting bone tissue of your teeth.

Periapical abscess

Periapical abscess

The abscess develops in the soft pulp inside of your tooth.

Depending on the type, the abscess can develop in different locations.

Causes Of Tooth Abscess

The tooth abscess occurs due to tooth decay. Your tooth can decay due to bacterial infection. The bacteria are often present in the plaque. It triggers the infection and affects the tooth. Gingivitis is the common cause of the development of an abscess. Poor oral hygiene encourages the formation of plaque on your teeth. It can cause inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue. The bacteria can cause an abscess in the following methods depending on the type of abscess.

Periapical Abscess

When you suffer from this type of abscess, the bacteria enter your tooth through tiny holes caused by caries or tooth decay. The tooth decay or caries affect the hard outer layer of the tooth. The condition can break down the soft layer called dentine. As the decay progresses, the hole can increase and penetrate the soft inner pulp of your tooth. So, it can become infected, resulting in a condition known as pulpitis. With the progression of pulpitis, the bacteria infect the bone that surrounds and supports the tooth. The bone known as alveolar bone can suffer from the infection leading to a periapical abscess.

Periodontal Abscess

You suffer from the condition known as periodontitis when the bacteria present in the plaque affects the gums. So, your gums can suffer from infection, which causes inflammation. So, the tissue surrounding the root of your tooth separates from the base. When the periodontal ligament separates from the tooth root, a tiny gap is formed. The gap is known as a periodontal pocket. The pocket can get dirty easily. It is difficult to keep the area clean. So, it results in the bacterial build up in the pocket. It leads to a periodontal abscess.

In most cases, patients undergoing any dental procedure can suffer from the condition. The dental procedure can accidentally result in periodontal pockets. When you take antibiotics, it masks the untreated periodontitis. So, you can suffer from periodontal abscess. Some people can suffer from the condition without the presence of periodontitis. Gum damage can lead to the condition in such cases.

Risk Factors Of Tooth Abscess

Do all people suffer from a tooth abscess? Certain factors make you more vulnerable to the condition compared to others. People coming under the category need to maintain caution and try to make changes in their lifestyle to decrease the risk of developing an abscess.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Not taking care of your teeth and gums can result in tooth decay and abscess formation. Poor oral health occurs when you fail to brush your teeth twice a day or no flossing. It can result in food getting deposited in between the teeth. So, bacteria can accumulate, leading to gum disease, tooth decay, abscess or other dental or mouth complications.

High Sugar Diet

Sugar can aid in bacteria flourishing in your mouth. So, a diet rich in sugar can put you at risk of dental issues. Eating and drinking foods containing sugar can trigger cavities. The cavities can escalate to form an abscess.

Dry Mouth

When you suffer from dry mouth, it increases your risk of tooth decay. Dry mouth can occur when you take certain medications or due to aging issues.

Diagnosis Of Tooth Abscess

When you experience tooth pain, then you need to see a doctor. it is important to evaluate the tooth problems early to prevent the condition from worsening. In some cases, a tooth abscess can cause infection in other areas, leading to fatal results. So, visit a dentist to diagnose the problem.

Visual Examination

Your dentist inspects your mouth and the suspected tooth abscess. The surrounding area is also checked thoroughly. Based on the examination, the doctor can suggest other tests.

Tap On Teeth

An abscess can make the affected tooth sensitive. Since it forms at the root of your tooth, you can feel sensitivity while putting pressure or touching the tooth.



X-ray images can offer comprehensive information on the abscess. So, you need to take an x-ray of the aching tooth. It not only identifies the presence of abscess but also checks if the infection has spread to other areas.

CT Scan

In severe cases of infection, the dentist suggests taking a CT scan. It can offer information on the spread of infection from your tooth to other areas within the neck. So, it offers a clear picture of the extent of infection.

Treatment For Tooth Abscess

The treatment for tooth abscess aims to get rid of the bacterial infection. So, the dentist can suggest the following options to handle the problem:

Open And Drain The Abscess

The first line of treatment is to make an incision in the abscess and draining it. Small cuts made on the abscess site help the pus to flow out. Then, the dentist washes the area with saline (salt) water to prevent bacterial growth. In some cases, the dentist can place a small rubber drain to keep the incision site open. It aids in the complete draining of the abscess. So, it reduces swelling and pain.

Root Canal

It is suggested by your dentist to eliminate the infection. It is suggested when the abscess can cause damage to your tooth. A root canal can save the damaged tooth. During the procedure, the dentist removes the infected pulp (central tissue) by drilling into the tooth. The abscess accumulated is drained. Then, the pulp chamber and root canals of the tooth gets filled and sealed. To finish the process, a crown is placed on the tooth. It makes the tooth stronger. A crown is placed, especially on the back tooth. You need to take good care of the restored tooth. With proper care, the root canal can keep your tooth safe for a long time.

Remove The Affected Tooth

Remove The Affected Tooth

If the infection is severe, then the tooth becomes unsalvageable. In such cases, the dentist extracts (pulls) the damaged tooth. Then, the abscess is drained. It will get rid of the infection.

Take Antibiotics

In some cases, the infection does not limit itself to the abscessed area. So, you need antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading to other areas. Severe cases of infection can spread to other teeth, jaw or other areas. Antibiotics can eliminate bacterial presence and prevent spreading of infection. People with weak immune systems are also vulnerable to the spread of infection. They must also take antibiotics.

Home Remedies For Easing Discomfort Due To Tooth Abscess

Your dentist also recommends some steps you need to follow at home. It helps in speedy recovery and eases discomfort. So, you need to follow some suggestions like:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. Salt can offer protection against bacteria. So, it helps with healing.
  • You need to take OTC pain relievers to ease the pain triggered due to abscess. So, take acetaminophen and ibuprofen as per your need.

Remember, the steps suggested above is combined with the doctor’s treatment for speedy healing. The home remedies alone may not cure tooth abscess. It requires medical attention. Therefore, see your dentist get rid of the problem.

Complications Due To Tooth Abscess

Never think home remedies can treat the abscess. A tooth abscess does not go away without medical assistance. In some cases, the abscess rupture, which reduces the pain significantly. But, you still require treatment to prevent further complications. Without proper drainage, the abscess can trigger infection. The infection can spread to other areas of the body like jaws, head, and neck. So, ignoring the abscess can result in some rare but serious complications like:


It is the life-threatening problem occurring due to your body’s reaction to the infection. The reaction can go out of control triggering damage to multiple organs. People with weak immune systems need proper treatment for the abscess of their teeth as the risk of spreading infection is high.

Dental Cysts

Some people can develop a cyst on the root of the tooth. The cyst is a fluid-filled cavity occurring when you fail to seek treatment for the abscess. The increase of infection rises with the development of a dental cyst. To overcome the condition, you need antibiotics treatment or even surgery.


The bacteria present in the abscess gets into the bloodstream. It deposits on the bone surface and causes infection. In cases of bone infection, you can suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Pain in the affected area of your bone

In most cases, the bones near the region of abscess can get affected by the problem. But, it can spread to other bones in your body through the blood. If you suffer from the bone infection, then you need antibiotics (in oral or intravenous) to alleviate the problem.

Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis

The bacteria from the abscess can cause a blood clot. The clot forms at cavernous sinus. It is the large vein present at the base of your brain. The condition can become fatal. So, you need proper treatment to deal with the rare condition. Your doctor treats it with antibiotics while the severe cases need surgery. The invasive procedure helps drain the sinus.

Ludwig’s Angina

It is the infection affecting the floor of your mouth. The condition occurs when the bacteria in the abscess spreads. Due to the problem, you can suffer from the following signs:

  • Swelling of tongue and neck
  • Intense pain in the neck
  • Experiencing tenderness or pain under the tongue

Patients suffering from severe cases of the condition can find it difficult to breathe properly. Ludwig’s angina needs proper medical attention. With treatment, you can face fatal consequences. The condition is treated with the use of antibiotics. For breathing issues, you need to undergo an invasive procedure to open the airway.

Maxillary Sinusitis

The bacteria in the abscess can spread to maxillary sinuses. It is the small space behind your cheekbones. It is a painful condition that resembles sinusitis. The problem can trigger fever and tender cheeks. The condition can resolve on its own. For severe cases, you need antibiotics to alleviate the problem.

Preventing Tooth Abscess

Can you prevent tooth abscess? It is possible to avoid the condition by taking some preventive measures. These preventive measures aim to avoid tooth decay, which leads to an abscess. So, you need to take good care of your teeth. Follow the steps suggested below to maintain oral health.

Drink Water Containing Fluoride

You need to drink water with fluoride in it to strengthen your teeth. It will help prevent tooth decays and abscess development.

Brush Twice A Day

It is important to brush twice a day to keep your teeth healthy. Brushing in the morning and before going to bed with fluoride paste will remove bacteria from the teeth. So, it reduces the risk of tooth decay.

Use Dental Floss/Interdental Cleaner

The food particles accumulate between the teeth. So, it increases the risk of bacteria causing tooth problems. So, clean between the teeth using dental floss or an interdental cleaner. You need to use it every day to keep the area between the teeth free from food particles.

Replace Tooth Brush

For effective cleaning of your teeth, you need to replace the toothbrush every three or four months. Frayed bristles cannot completely remove the food particles from your teeth. So, replace the brush with frayed bristles.

Avoid Sugary Foods And In Between Snacks

Sugary foods can promote the growth of bacteria. The drinks and foods containing sugar can deposit on your teeth surface. The bacteria produce a type of acid, which results in tooth enamel erosion. So, you become susceptible to decay of tooth and abscess formation. Avoid eating food containing sugar. Control yourself from frequent snacking to prevent a bacterial attack on your teeth.

Include Healthy Diet

You need to include a diet that will strengthen your teeth and avoid any problems. Try to avoid food, which can deposit in the teeth grooves and pits. Add fruits and vegetables to your diet as it increases saliva production. Take sugar-free fluids as it washes away the food particles deposited in the space between your teeth. It will prevent bacteria. A healthy diet can make your body fit.

Visit The Dentist

To avoid any problem and detect any issues with your oral health, you need to visit your dentist. The regular checkups can spot problems with your teeth or gums and get a proper solution. You can also visit the dentist to get professional cleanings. The professional cleanings get rid of stubborn particles impossible to remove by brushing or flossing.

Use Mouthwash

You can add an extra layer of protection by using a mouthwash. The mouthwash containing antiseptic or fluoride in it can protect your teeth against plaques and subsequent tooth decay.


A tooth abscess is a condition, triggering pain and discomfort. You need proper treatment to manage the pain and prevent it from spreading to other areas. Ignoring the abscess can cause infection to spread. It can result in fatal results. With appropriate and timely medical intervention, you can manage pain and control the infection. See you, the dentist, to get an ideal solution to your problem. Following the preventive measures can avoid the condition affecting your teeth in the future.

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