Dental Abscess

Dental Abscess – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


Last Modified: October 30, 2023


A dental abscess can be painful, and understanding its symptoms, causes, and treatment options is essential for maintaining oral health. In this blog, we will explore the different aspects of dental abscesses, providing valuable information on their symptoms, possible causes, and effective treatment methods.

What is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is a localized collection of pus within the teeth, gums, or the bone supporting the teeth. This condition occurs due to a bacterial infection, typically from dental cavities, gum disease, or a cracked tooth. The infection may lead to the accumulation of pus, causing swelling, severe pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Dental Abscess

The absence of a protective blood clot exposes the bone and nerves in the socket, leading to various uncomfortable symptoms and potential complications. Some of the risks associated with dry sockets include:

  • 1. Pain: Dental abscesses are often accompanied by intense, throbbing pain. The discomfort can be constant and may radiate to the jaw, neck, or ear.
  • 2. Swelling: Swelling in the affected area, often accompanied by redness, is a common symptom of a dental abscess.
  • 3. Fever: In some cases, the infection can cause a fever, indicating a systemic response to the localized infection.
  • 4. Bad Taste and Smell: An unpleasant taste or odor in the mouth may result from the pus draining into the mouth.
  • 5. Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing: Severe abscesses can obstruct the airway or interfere with swallowing.
  • 6. General Malaise: You may feel generally unwell, tired, or experience a loss of appetite

Causes of Dental Abscess

  • 1. Tooth Decay: Untreated tooth decay is the most common cause of dental abscess. Bacteria can infiltrate the pulp of a tooth and lead to an infection.
  • 2. Gum Disease: Gingivitis or periodontitis can create pockets where bacteria can accumulate and cause an abscess.
  • 3. Cracked or Chipped Teeth: These can provide an entry point for bacteria, leading to an abscess.
  • 4. Inadequate Dental Care: Poor oral hygiene practices can increase the risk of developing dental abscesses.

Risk Factors of Dental Abscess

  • 1. Neglecting regular brushing and flossing increases the likelihood of dental abscess due to poor oral hygiene.
  • 2. Consuming sugary foods and beverages frequently increases tooth decay risk, potentially leading to abscess formation.
  • 3. A dry mouth, often a side effect of medications or age-related factors, can elevate the risk of tooth abscess by promoting decay.
  • 4. Poor dental habits, including irregular dental check-ups, contribute to an increased risk of developing a tooth abscess.
  • 5. Ignoring dental issues such as cavities and gum disease can lead to a painful tooth abscess over time.

Types of Dental Abscess

There are two main types of dental abscesses:

  • 1. Periapical Abscess: This type of abscess occurs at the tip of the tooth’s root and is usually the result of untreated tooth decay.
  • 2. Periodontal Abscess: These abscesses form in the gums and are often associated with gum disease.

Dental Abscess Treatment

Treatment for a dental abscess typically involves the following:

  • 1. Antibiotics: Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to control the infection.
  • 2. Drainage: In some cases, the abscess may need to be drained through a root canal treatment or incision.
  • 3. Pain Management: Pain relievers may be prescribed to alleviate the discomfort.
  • 4. Dental Procedures: Depending on the underlying cause, you may need additional dental treatments, such as a filling, crown, dental implants, or a root canal.
  • 5. Improved Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene practices prevents future abscesses.

When should you see a dentist for a dental abscess?

  • 1. If you have any signs of a dental abscess, go to the dentist immediately.
  • 2. Dental abscesses can lead to complications if left untreated, so it’s important to seek professional dental care as soon as possible.
  • 3. Your dentist can properly diagnose the abscess and recommend the appropriate treatment, including draining the abscess, prescribing antibiotics, or performing a root canal.
  • 4. Delaying treatment can spread infection to other parts of the body and cause more serious health problems.

Complications and Prevention of Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a painful and potentially serious infection when bacteria invade the soft tissue or bone around the tooth. Here are some complications that can arise from a dental abscess and how to prevent them:

  • 1. Spread of infection: If left untreated, a dental abscess can spread to other areas of the body, leading to more serious infections such as Ludwig’s angina (a severe infection of the floor of the mouth) or a systemic infection (sepsis). To prevent the spread of infection, seeking prompt treatment from a dentist or oral surgeon is crucial.
  • 2. Damage to surrounding teeth: The pressure from the abscess can damage the surrounding teeth, causing them to weaken or become infected. This can lead to further complications and the need for additional dental work. Regular dental check-ups can help identify and address any issues before they escalate.
  • 3. Bone loss: In severe cases, a dental abscess can lead to bone loss around the affected tooth. This can weaken the jawbone and affect the stability of surrounding teeth. Good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, can help prevent gum disease and subsequent bone loss.
  • 4. Sinus infection: An abscess in the upper teeth can sometimes extend into the sinus cavity, leading to a sinus infection. This can cause symptoms such as facial pain, congestion, and headache. It’s important to address dental issues promptly and maintain good oral hygiene to prevent this complication.
  • 5. Tooth loss: A dental abscess can sometimes lead to losing the affected tooth. This can occur if the infection is severe and irreversibly damages the tooth and surrounding tissue. Preventive measures such as regular dental visits, proper oral hygiene, and early intervention can help preserve the health of your teeth and prevent tooth loss.

Prevention of dental abscesses primarily involves maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including:

  • 1. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • 2. Flossing daily to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth and along the gumline.
  • 3. Avoiding excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks, which can contribute to tooth decay.
  • 4. Quitting smoking can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of gum disease and dental abscesses.
  • 5. Visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and professional cleanings to detect and address any potential issues before they develop into abscesses or other complications.
  • 6. Practicing good oral hygiene and seeking prompt treatment for any dental problems can reduce your risk of developing a dental abscess and its associated complications.


Dental abscesses can be painful and potentially dangerous if left untreated. It’s crucial to recognize the symptoms, understand the causes, and seek prompt dental care if you suspect you have a dental abscess.

You can alleviate the pain, eliminate the infection, and protect your oral health with the right treatment. Remember that regular dental check-ups or emergency dentistry at Clove Dental and proper oral hygiene are key to preventing dental abscesses in the first place. If you suspect a dental abscess and want to get it checked, you can BOOK AN APPOINTMENT at Clove Dental.

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