Dental Abscess Symptoms and Treatment

It’s easy to forget about your teeth until something goes wrong. Suddenly your tooth feels painful and sensitive. When you’ve got unexpected tooth pain, it’s time to see a dentist or oral surgeon. You may have a dental abscess. Prompt treatment is crucial to protect your health and your teeth.

What Is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is an infection of the tooth. It occurs when a pocket of pus develops, usually as a result of a bacterial infection. Dentists classify abscesses based on where they occur on the tooth. Treatment for your tooth infection will depend on the location and severity of your abscess.

What causes a dental abscess? Infection can occur as a result of an untreated cavity, prior dental work, or injury to the tooth.

Symptoms of a Tooth Abscess

Dental abscesses can progress quickly, leading to severe, potentially life-threatening complications if left untreated. Learning the symptoms of an abscess can help you recognize a problem and seek care quickly if symptoms present.

Common symptoms of a tooth abscess include:

  • Severe and persistent toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity when exposed to hot and cold temperatures
  • Fever
  • Facial or lymph node swelling
  • Foul taste in the mouth, common if the abscess ruptures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sensitivity when biting or chewing

If you experience these symptoms, contact your dentist as soon as possible for an examination, testing, and possible treatment.

Treating an Abscessed Tooth

When you visit your dentist for a potentially abscessed tooth, they will perform a thorough examination of the tooth and the surrounding areas. They may tap on your tooth or feel for the surrounding lymph nodes during your examination.

Sometimes additional testing is necessary. Your dentist may take X-rays to look for an abscess or to determine its extent. In some cases, a CT scan can help determine how far the infection has spread.

Once your dentist knows what they are looking at, they can create a treatment plan for your tooth infection. The goal of treatment is to eliminate the infection.

Commonly used techniques include the following.

  • Drain the Abscess: Draining and cleaning the abscess removes the infection from the area so the tissues can heal.
  • Root Canal: A root canal is a procedure designed to save your tooth. The dentist removes the infection and diseased pulp from the tooth, then fills and seals it. Sometimes, capping the tooth provides additional strength.
  • Tooth Extraction: Sometimes the best treatment for a tooth infection is to remove the diseased tooth with a tooth extraction. If you need to have a tooth removed, restoration options, like dental implants, may be available.
  • Antibiotic Treatment: Antibiotics help the body fight infection. Antibiotics can stop stubborn infections from spreading.

Infections may start small, but they progress quickly. Regular dental care can help you catch potential problems early—before they have a chance to become infected.

Visiting your dentist at the first sign of infection can reduce its chances of spreading, allowing for less invasive treatments.

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort from a tooth infection, contact Hill Country Oral Surgery to learn about your treatment options.