What is a Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess (or dental abscess) is defined as a collection of pus that forms inside the teeth and gums or in the bone that holds the teeth in place.

The main cause of a tooth abscess is bacterial infection and when left, they can become very painful and will not go away on their own. If left, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body which could require serious medical intervention.

What Are the Tooth Abscess Symptoms

The symptoms of a tooth abscess are often easy to spot but can be confused with other tooth-related infections. Either way, if you are presenting one of the following symptoms or signs of a tooth abscess, t’s strongly advised you visit your dentist for a checkup:

  • Throbbing pain within your mouth that appears suddenly and gradually worsens
  • Pain that may spread to your sinuses, which includes your nose, ear, jaw and sometimes your neck depending on which side the abscess is on
  • Tooth discolouration
  • Bad breath and bad taste in your mouth
  • Swelling in your face
  • Sensitive teeth (hot and cold drinks especially)

Other signs of tooth abscess may include a fever of high temperature if the infection has spread beyond your mouth. If this is the case, you must seek immediate dental intervention to stop the symptoms from worsening. Tooth abscess pain may come and go, but the problem will not.

How to Treat a Tooth Abscess:

The only way you can treat a tooth abscess is through dental intervention, and while tooth abscess pain can be managed through medication, the abscess itself will not go away on its own.

treating a tooth abscess

Removing the infection can be performed in a number of ways, and you will be able to discuss treatment options with your dentist before any procedure begins. You may be presented with the following:

Incise and drain the abscess

This involves your dentist making a tiny cut into the access to allow the pus to drain out. Then, they will wash the affected area with saline and may place a rubber drain in your mouth to aid drainage while the swelling subsides.

Root canal treatment

A root canal is used to effectively rid the abscess and save your tooth. Root canals are routine procedures that involve drilling into the affected tooth and removing the pulp, draining the abscess in the process. The pulp is the soft inner part of your tooth and is made up of living blood vessels, tissue and nerves. Then, your dentist will fill the pulp and root canals. Finally, the affected tooth is then capped with a crown to strengthen it and allow you to eat and drink normally.

Removing the infected tooth

Also known as a tooth extraction, the procedure occurs when the tooth is badly infected and can no longer be saved. Your dentist will extract the tooth, drain the abscess and then fit you with a dental implant. You can learn more about dental implants on our Everything You Need to Know About Tooth Implants article.

Oral medication (antibiotics)

In some cases, your tooth abscess will need to be treated with antibiotics to ensure the infection does not spread anywhere else in your mouth or body. You will still need one of the above treatments to remove the abscess, however.

Home Remedies to Alleviate Tooth Abscess Pain

There are also tooth abscess home remedies you can use in the meantime before visiting your dentist. These include rinsing your mouth with salt water and taking over the counter pain medication. You will still require dental treatment in order to effectively eliminate your abscess as the above only provides temporary relief.

Tooth Abscess Stages and Causes

smoking, plaque on teeth human teeth after smoking. Brown resinous plaque on teeth close-up. Smoking harm concept

The main cause of a tooth abscess is when bacteria enters the pulp, this could be through a crack, chip or hole in the tooth. When the bacteria enters, it begins to irritate the blood vessels and the connective tissue inside your tooth. Eventually, it will reach your root and this is what creates the abscess.

Below are the main tooth abscess stages and causes:

A poor diet – eating and drinking foods that are high in sugar can create cavities which can transform into abscesses if left.

Poor dental hygiene – not following simple oral hygiene instructions such as brushing and flossing twice a day can lead to several oral diseases. These include gum disease, tooth decay, infection, tooth abscesses, plaque and tartar build-up and other mouth-related complications.

Cracked or chipped teeth – if you damage your tooth through injury (playing sport, for example) it’s important to visit your dentist so they can cover the area with a veneer or crown. Failure to do this just invites bacteria to infect the opening of the tooth, eventually resulting in a tooth abscess.

Tooth Abscess Complications

Removing a tooth abscess is a routine procedure and severe complications are rare. However, it’s important to be aware of certain side effects and tooth abscess complications that can occur if you do not follow simple aftercare instructions.

  • High fever – if the abscess is not treated properly, it can spread to other parts of your body, resulting in a fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty eating, chewing and swallowing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Confusion

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms after your procedure, please contact your dentist immediately as further treatment may be required.

How Much Does it Cost to Treat a Dental Abscess?

tooth abscess cost

How much it will cost to have your dental abscess removed depends on the method of treatment. Until you visit your dentist to have them assess the extent of the damage, a definitive price cannot be given.

However, you can explore our price guide page for a clearer idea of your treatment prices.

If You Have a Tooth Abscess, Visit Your Dentist

If you are struggling with a tooth abscess, do not let it get worse, book an appointment with your dentist today. At Hove Dental Clinic, we specialise in handling nervous patients and use state of the art technology to safely and effectively remove tooth abscess. We will take good care of you at our clinic in Hove and will provide you with exceptional dental care, support and aftercare advice you need.

Contact our friendly team today to book your appointment and restore your oral health and smile.