What is a Dental Abscess?

Posted .

When you experience a cavity—that means that your tooth is decaying. An abscess is an infection that occurs when a pock of pus gathers under the tooth and causes infection. Do not leave an abscess untreated. Abscess will not go away on its own and is likely to get worse. In severe cases, a dental cyst can form and need to be removed surgically.


To determine if your have a tooth abscess, there are a few things you can do. Tap the tooth. A tooth with abscess at tis roots will be very sensitive to pressure. You can also tell with a dental x-ray. If you have an aching tooth, have it x-rayed. This will determine not only if you have an abscess but also the extent of it and the affected areas. If an abscess has spread to other areas, it may also be necessary to get a CT scan. An abscess can spread within the neck and cause further infection.


When it comes to treatment, you’ll want to visit a dentist. You cannot treat a dental abscess at home. You may find temporary relief from pain, but for the abscess to fully be treated, you’ll need a dentist. There are a few ways to treat an abscess depending on its severity.

  • Drain the abscess—a dentist can make a small incision to drain out the pus, and then thoroughly wash the area with a saline.
  • Root canal—not the most fun option, but it will eliminate the infection and effectively save your tooth. A root canal consists of a dentist drilling into your tooth, removing the diseased tissue and draining the abscess. The dentist will then fill the tooth and seal it’s pulp chamber. A crown will then be capped on the tooth to make it stronger. This treatment can effectively last a life time.
  • Pull the tooth—if the affected tooth is beyond repair, it may need to be pulled. Once the tooth has been extracted, the abscess can be drained.
  • Antibiotics—if the infection has spread beyond the abscessed area, you may need antibiotics. The infection can easily spread to nearby teeth, your jaw, or other surrounding areas. Antibiotics can help the infection from spreading further and potentially help to relieve some pain.

Treatment for dental abscess can be uncomfortable. But it is important to get treated as soon as possible before the infection has a chance to spread and worsen. The more time that goes by, the more painful treatment is likely to be.  


Usually after under going treatment for abscess, you’ll need to heal. The process can be pretty painful. To prevent the infection from returning and to heal the infected area—rinse your mouth with warm salt water daily. It may also be helpful to take over the counter pain relievers as needed. With time, the area can be completely healed. Practice good oral hygiene to avoid another experience with an abscess.