Understanding Tooth Abscess: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

July 14, 2022
tooth abscess symptoms rouse hill

Tooth abscesses are painful dental conditions, often leading many to seek urgent dental care. This condition can escalate if untreated, impacting both your dental and general health. This article delves into what causes a tooth abscess, the symptoms to watch out for, and the various treatment options available.


Defining a Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess forms when a pocket of pus develops due to a bacterial infection, causing significant pain and discomfort. They can manifest in different parts of the tooth or its surrounding regions. This infection primarily targets the affected tooth, but can also impact the surrounding bone and adjacent teeth. Broadly, tooth abscesses can be categorised into:

  • Gingival Abscess: Originates from a gum infection, typically not affecting the tooth or surrounding structures.

  • Periapical Abscess: Bacteria penetrate the tooth's central pulp through a cavity or crack, leading to this infection at the tooth root's tip. If not addressed, it can escalate, affecting the bone and even leading to tooth loss. In very rare instances, this infection could even reach the brain, resulting in bacterial meningitis, or the heart, causing endocarditis. Recognising tooth abscess symptoms early on and seeking prompt treatment is crucial.

  • Periodontal Abscess: This infection starts in the supporting tissues and bone of the tooth, often a consequence of gum disease or periodontitis (commonly seen in adults).


Who's At Risk? Certain conditions can elevate the risk of developing a tooth infection:

  • Dry mouth: Low saliva levels offer a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Compromised immune system: Diseases or certain medications can diminish the immune response.
  • Inadequate dental hygiene: Regular dental care practices like brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings minimise bacteria build-up.
  • Smoking: Smokers are notably more susceptible to tooth infections compared to non-smokers.


Symptoms of a Tooth Abscess Recognising the symptoms of a dental abscess ensures timely treatment. Key signs include:

  • Persistent pain, intensified while chewing
  • Sensitivity to temperature fluctuations
  • Reddened or swollen gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Swelling of the jaw, particularly with advanced infections
  • An unpleasant taste caused by an open sore in the gums


How Do Dentists Address a Tooth Abscess? Each tooth abscess treatment is tailored to the patient's unique needs. Typical procedures include:

  • Incision and Drainage: A minor cut is made to release the pus and alleviate pain.

  • Antibiotics: If an abscess can't be drained immediately due to heightened pain sensitivity, antibiotics help curtail the infection, making further treatment more manageable.

  • Root Canal Therapy: This treats the infection and simultaneously drains the abscess. Once healed, a crown is affixed to bolster the tooth.

  • Tooth Extraction: In cases where the tooth can't be salvaged, extraction becomes necessary to drain the abscess and aid healing.

  • Hospital Care: Extreme swelling, even after antibiotics, may necessitate hospitalisation.


Should I Treat a Tooth Abscess as a Dental Emergency?

Yes, unequivocally. A tooth abscess can lead to grave complications if left untreated. The faster you seek intervention, the better the outcome.


When Should I Consult a Dentist?

Noticing any of the above-listed symptoms warrants an immediate call to our dental clinic. We prioritise dental emergencies, often scheduling a same-day appointment.

Act Now, Don't Hesitate Delay can exacerbate the pain and potential complications. We offer same-day emergency care, even for first-time patients. Ensure your comfort and safety - get in touch with Yes Dental on (02) 96292757 or book online.

Please note: Every surgical or invasive procedure comes with inherent risks. It's prudent to seek a second opinion from a qualified health professional.

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.


Queensland Government – Emergency Dental

John Hopkins Medicine – Bacterial Meningitis

NHS – Endocarditis

Jama Network – Cigarette Smoking and Infection


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