Dental or Tooth Abscess is a pocket of pus that occurs due to a bacterial infection in the mouth, face, jaw or throat. These bacteria usually thrive when there is a plaque build-up in the tooth and oral cavities, allowing them to grow and damage the teeth and gums leading to severe gum disease. Since there is an accumulation of the pus, it can be extremely painful when tissues within the mouth swell up and become inflamed or create pressure within the abscess. Also Read: Abscess: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

dental abscess

An abscess usually happens due to a broken tooth, tooth decay, deep-rooted cavity or due to some recent dental procedures like tooth extraction or a failed root canal treatment. It can also occur due to poor dental health, lack of proper dental care and maintenance and excessive intake of sugary foods. People who are suffering from auto-immune disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes, or have a weakened immunity due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy are most likely at the risk of having this dental infection.

Abscess in the oral cavities may occur due to different reasons. There are five predominant types of dental abscess which are:
  • Periapical Abscess:
Bacterial infection occurring on the soft surrounding tissues and pulp of the tooth.
  • Periodontal Abscess:
This generally occurs in the gum or the supporting bone tissue structure at the side of a rotten tooth.
  • Gingival Abscess:
This infection happens only in the gum tissue and doesn’t affect the tooth or the periodontal ligament.
  • Peri Coronal Abscess:
Typically happens in the soft tissues surrounding the crown of a tooth.
  • Combined Periodontic-Endodontic Abscess:
A severe form of infection when both the periapical abscess and the periodontal abscess have combined.
If left untreated, the abscess can spread to the brain resulting in septicemia which is an infection of the blood or can cause a blockage within the airways preventing proper airflow and thus compromising breathing.


The usual signs and symptoms characterizing dental abscess include:
  • Persistent, throbbing toothache that radiates to your ear, jawbone, or neck
  • Pain while biting or chewing
  • Swollen, red gums and cheek
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes in your neck or under your jaw
  • Fever
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold things
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Facial redness and swelling
  • Discoloured or loose teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Foul taste in your mouth
  • Insomnia

Diagnosis And Treatment

It is strictly instructed to consult a doctor if you feel any pain in your tooth or gums. A dentist usually analyses the dental abscess by a thorough dental check-up which includes:
  • A tap on the tooth since having an abscess at the root will lead to a sensitive tooth.
  • Imaging techniques like X-rays and CT-scans to analyse the extent of infection within the mouth.
To get rid of the infection, the doctor may suggest or perform any of the following treatments:
  • Prescribe antibiotics to subdue the pain and inflammation.
  • Perform a root canal surgery to save the tooth and clear the infection from the roots and gum.
  • Perform an incision in the abscess and drain the pus.
  • Get rid of the affected tooth to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Removal of the foreign object if the abscess has occurred due to a foreign object sticking up in between the teeth or gum.
The dentist may also suggest some preventive measures to steer clear of this infection or prevent reoccurrence. These include:
  • Drink fluoridated water.
  • Regularly brush and floss to prevent a bacterial infection from the food stuck in between teeth and promote oral hygiene. Also Read: The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene
  • Use prescribed antibacterial mouthwashes.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or whenever the bristles are tattered.
  • Eat healthy food, and limit on sugary items and usual snacking
  • Pay a regular visit to the dentist