What Is An Abscessed Tooth?

What Is An Abscessed Tooth?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Most people ignore an aching tooth, passing it off as sensitivity and just pop some pain relievers and hope for the best. Unfortunately, a toothache can be more than just tooth sensitivity. For example, it may be a dental cavity. If a serious dental problem goes untreated and ignored, more severe conditions may develop. An example of this is an abscessed tooth. 

What Is An Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. A tooth becomes infected when your pulp, where the pus pocket or abscess forms, has an untreated cavity. As the bacteria multiply, the infection spreads. If the abscess forms in the gums beside the root of the tooth, it is called a periodontal abscess. If it is on the tip of the root, it is called a periapical abscess. 

Poor dental hygiene with a high sugar diet increases your risk of developing a tooth abscess. Dry mouth, which can be a side effect of aging or medication, is also a factor that may lead to an abscessed tooth. 

An abscessed tooth may lead to dangerous complications, and it needs immediate treatment. If you notice the following symptoms, visit a dentist as soon as possible. 

  • Throbbing toothache
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Fever
  • Swollen face or cheek
  • Swollen lymph nodes under your jaw
  • Foul-tasting fluid in your mouth due to a ruptured abscess
  • Difficulty breathing

If you have a fever with swelling and trouble breathing properly, seek emergency care. These may be symptoms of an infection spreading to other tissues or areas of the body.

Treatments for an Abscessed Tooth

If detected early, a dental cavity can be quickly addressed by your dentist, preventing the need for a tooth extraction. However, if it has already developed an abscess, here are your treatment options.

Draining the Abscess

The first thing your dentist will do if the abscess has yet to rupture is to open it up and remove it. Your dentist will do this by making a small cut into the pocket, letting the pus out. The area will then be cleaned with saline. In some cases, a rubber drain will be placed in the affected area to keep it open for drainage as the swelling subsides.

Root Canal

Your dentist may opt to perform a root canal. By doing so, they will treat the infection and eliminate the need to extract the affected tooth. This procedure starts with drilling down into your tooth to remove the infected pulp and drain the abscess. Next, it involves filling and sealing your tooth’s pulp chamber and root canal, just like in a dental filling procedure. You may also ask for a crown to cap your tooth to make it stronger.

Tooth Extraction

In the case where the tooth is beyond saving, a tooth extraction will be done to avoid the spread of infection. You may inquire with your dentist about dentures or dental implants to replace the lost tooth and to prevent the formation of gaps in your teeth.


If the infection has already spread to the other parts of your mouth, your dentist will prescribe antibiotics to treat it. Likewise, if you already have a weak immune system, you will be recommended to take medications, as well.

Abscessed Tooth Treatment in Nevada

If you feel recurring pain in your teeth, seek dental care immediately. Early detection and treatment of dental problems can prevent more severe conditions like an abscess tooth.

The friendly staff at Dedicated Dental in Henderson, Nevada, are ready to help you with your dental needs. Make an appointment today by calling (702) 566-5509. You may also request an appointment online.