Dental Abscess

Dental Abscess

What is a dental abscess?

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. An abscess may occur at different parts of the tooth for different reasons. A periapical abscess occurs at the tip of the root, whereas a periodontal abscess occurs in the gums at the side of a tooth root.

A periapical tooth abscess usually occurs as a result of an untreated dental cavity, an injury or prior dental work. Dentists will treat a tooth abscess by draining it and getting rid of the infection. They may be able to save your tooth with a root canal treatment, but in some cases the tooth may need to be extracted.

Dental abscesses typically result from dental or gum infections where the oral bacteria is able to infiltrate the tooth. Periapical abscesses occur when bacteria gets into the tooth through dental decay, while periodontal abscesses are caused by bacteria building up in periodontal pockets. Traumatic injuries to a tooth may also cause the nerve to die, resulting in a collection of pus or abscess inside the jaw bone.

Depending on the location of the abscess, the treatment may vary. The goal is always to remove the source of the infection, and allow your body’s immune system to catch up and repair the damage caused by the bacterial infection.

Options to treat a dental abscess may include:

  • Root canal therapy to drain the infected nerve and pus from within the tooth and save your tooth
  • Deep clean below the gum line around affected areas to remove bacteria within gums and allow pus to drain
  • Removal of the affected tooth along with the infection and abscess
  • Prescribe antibiotics to control the extent of the infection if the abscess has spread to nearby teeth, jaws or other areas or if you have a compromised immune system.

Tooth abscesses will not go away without treatment and will only get worse in time. If left untreated, the bacteria can spread further into the bloodstream or bones, leading to more serious, even life-threatening, complications.


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