A tooth abscess is a collection of infected material (pus) in the center of a tooth. It is due to bacterial infection.
Periapical abscess; Dental abscess; Tooth infection; Abscess – tooth
A tooth abscess is a complication of
Infection results in a collection of pus and tissue swelling within the tooth. This causes a painful
The main symptom is a severe toothache. The pain is continuous. It can be described as gnawing, sharp, shooting, or throbbing.
Other symptoms may include:
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold
- Swelling of the gum over the infected tooth, that may look like a pimple
Swollen glandsof the neck
- Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw — a very serious symptom
Exams and Tests
The dentist will closely look at your teeth, mouth, and gums. You may have pain when the dentist taps the tooth. Biting or closing the mouth tightly also increases the pain. The gums may be swollen and red and may drain thick material.
Dental x-rays and other tests can help your dentist determine which tooth or teeth are causing the problem.
The goals of treatment are to cure the infection, save the tooth, and prevent complications.
Antibiotics may be given to fight the infection. Warm salt-water rinses may help ease the pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers may relieve the toothache and fever.
Do NOT place aspirin directly over the tooth or gums. This increases irritation of the tissues and can result in
A root canal may be recommended in an attempt to save the tooth.
If there is a severe infection, the tooth may be removed, or surgery may be needed to drain the abscess. Some people may need to be admitted to the hospital.
Untreated abscesses may get worse and can lead to life-threatening complications.
Prompt treatment cures the infection in most cases. The tooth can often be saved.
- Loss of the tooth
- Blood infection (sepsis)
- Spread of infection to soft tissue (facial
cellulitis, Ludwig’s angina)
- Spread of infection to the jaw bone (
osteomyelitisof the jaw)
- Spread of infection to other areas of the body resulting in
brain abscess, endocarditis, pneumonia, or other complications
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your dentist if you have a throbbing toothache that does not go away.
Prompt treatment of dental caries reduces the risk of tooth abscess. Broken or chipped teeth should be examined right away by the dentist.