Dental abscess: symptoms, causes and treatment

Dental abscess: symptoms, causes and treatment

Are you concerned about dental abscesses? Then worry no more as we explain the symptoms, causes, treatment and best prevention tips for a dental abscess.


What is a dental abscess?


A dental abscess is a collection of pus that can form inside the teeth, gums or bone that holds the teeth together, which is caused by a bacterial infection.

There are several types of dental abscess’ but the two main ones are periapical abscess and periodontal abscess. The periapical abscess is an abscess at the end of a tooth. Whereas a periodontal abscess is an abscess in the gum.

Abscesses don’t go away on their own and can spread to other parts of the body making you ill, so it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible.




The signs and symptoms of a tooth abscess include:


  • Severe throbbing toothache that can spread to the jawbone, neck and ears
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
  • Sensitivity to the pressure of biting or chewing
  • Fever
  • Redness or swelling in your face or cheek
  • Bad breath and foul-tasting fluid in your mouth
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing


What causes a dental abscess?


Our mouths are full of bacteria and if not properly cleaned can form a film of plaque. Acids produced by the bacteria in plaque can damage your teeth and gums, leading to tooth decay or gum disease, which is why it’s really important to keep your teeth clean.


The following can increase your chances of developing a dental abscess:


  • Poor oral hygiene and a buildup of plaque
  • Consuming lots of sugary food and drinks, encouraging the growth of bacteria and plaque
  • If you have had an injury or surgery on your teeth in the past, you are at risk of bacteria getting into the damaged parts of the teeth or gums.
  • People with a weakened immune system are also at greater risk. This includes health conditions such as diabetes and those having treatments such as chemotherapy or steroid medication


How can an abscess be treated?


Dental abscesses are treated by removing the source of infection, relieving pain and draining away the pus. Depending on the location of the abscess and how severe the infection is, possible treatments include:


Root canal treatment:  This is a procedure where the abscess is removed from the root of the tooth. The infected area will be drained, cleaned, filled and sealed.


Tooth extraction: If the affected tooth can’t be saved a tooth extraction may be necessary. Your dentist will remove the tooth and drain the abscess to get rid of the infection.


Incision and drainage: A small incision can be made into the gum allowing your dentist to drain the abscess. This may only be a temporary solution and further treatment may be required.


How to reduce your chances of getting an abscess?


You can reduce your risk of developing a dental abscess by keeping your mouth and gums as healthy as possible. You can do this by:


  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day
  • Use floss or an interdental brush once a day to clean in between your teeth and gum line.
  • Avoid rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing as it washes away the protective fluoride from the toothpaste.
  • Cut down on sugary food and drink
  • Visit your dentist regularly for oral health check-ups. This is really important as they can help and advise you on caring for your teeth as well as spotting and treating more serious issues.


If you are situated in Rotherham, Worksop, Retford and surrounding areas and are in need of a check-up or would like to book an appointment then please call us on 01709 917 666

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