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Is a Dental Abscess an Emergency?

What Is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess, also known as a tooth abscess, is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. Many things can cause this pocket to form and they can be located in different regions in the tooth or gums. A dentist can treat a tooth abscess, but the treatment method varies based on the type of abscess.

Types of Dental Abscess and How They Form

Patients can experience three types of dental abscess.

Periapical Abscess

A periapical abscess forms in the tip of the tooth root when an infection spreads from the tooth to the surrounding bone/gum tissue. The infection comes from bacteria entering the pulp within your teeth. A periapical abscess is a result of an untreated dental cavity, injury, or prior dental work.

Periodontal Abscess

A periodontal abscess forms in the gums at the side of the tooth root. Gum disease is often the cause, but a periodontal abscess can also form after an injury.

Gingival Abscess

A gingival abscess forms in the gum tissue. It is common for these types of abscess to occur from food or a sharp foreign object piercing the gums. Scaling and planning, injury, orthodontic inflammation, or occlusal stress can also cause a gingival abscess. Unlike the other two types of abscess, gingival abscess does not involve the tooth at all.

What Are the Symptoms of a Tooth Abscess?

The primary symptom of an abscess is pain near the tooth or your gums. The pain usually appears suddenly and gets worse until treated. Additional symptoms of a tooth abscess include:

  • Pain in the ear, jaw, neck
  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Swollen gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath or bad taste in mouth
  • Fever
  • Facial redness and swelling

When the abscess ruptures patients will experience immediate relief and a bad taste in their mouth from the pus.

How Can I Treat a Dental Abscess?

There are several options for treating a dental abscess that will vary by patient and the type of abscess. It is common for your dentist to start with an x-ray to see if the infection has spread to other areas. Your dentist will then choose a treatment plan that can include one or more of the following:

  • Draining your dentist will drain the pus and clean the area.
  • Root canal – the abscess is drained and infected dental pulp is removed. Then, the area is sealed to prevent another abscess. Oftentimes patients receive a crown.
  • Tooth extraction if your tooth is beyond the ability to repair it, the dentist will remove it.
  • Antibiotics – your dentist may prescribe antibiotics in combination with other treatments if the abscess has spread.
  • Foreign object removal – if the abscess is due to a foreign object such as a food item it will be removed and then the area will be cleaned.

What Can Happen If a Tooth Abscess Is Left Untreated?

It is important to visit your dentist if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and believe that you have any type of dental abscess. The infection can spread to other parts of your head and neck, including jaw and head, if an abscess is left untreated.

Even if your abscess ruptures before visiting the dentist patients are advised to make an appointment to have the area examined and cleaned properly.

Contact Dental365 Today to Treat Your Dental Abscess

You can visit any of our Dental365 locations in NY and CT for emergency dental services including a dental abscess. Contact us at (844) 365-DENTAL for more information or to schedule an appointment today.


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