smile dental logo

Abscessed Tooth – A Comprehensive Guide

Excerpt: A tooth abscess can be a scary, extremely critical, painful event...
Table of Contents

Abscessed Tooth Facts

  • A tooth abscess cannot be cured with an “at-home” remedy.
  • A fractured tooth can lead to a tooth abscess.
  • The first root canal therapy tool was invented in 1838!

tooth abscess can be a scary, extremely critical, painful event if you ever unfortunate enough to experience one.

What Is An Abscessed Tooth?

Teeth can look like very solid structures, however, the outside of the tooth is meant for protection, while the inside of the tooth houses your pulp, connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. If this part of the tooth gets infected it can be devastating to your oral structures and even overall health.



If the inner tooth is infected, it may be because of:




If the bacteria in your mouth are able to infect the inner part of your tooth, then it can result in a couple of different types of tooth abscesses:

Periapical Abscess

Forms at the tip of the root of the tooth.

Periodontal Abscess

Affects the bone next to your tooth.

What Does An Abscessed Tooth Look Like?

An abscess will generally appear as a small bump where the infection occurred. You may also notice puss coming from the abscess.

Does A Tooth Abscess Have Different Stages?

Yes, there are 6 stages of a dental abscess that have been identified.
Dental abscess 1 1

What Are The Symptoms Of An Abscessed Tooth?

Depending on the type of abscess, and the severity of infection, you can experience a number of different symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Gum redness
  • Bad taste
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Puffy gums
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Unexplained fever

How Is An Abscessed Tooth Diagnosed

If you suspect you have an abscess (may look like a small gum boil), you need to immediately see a dentist, an abscessed tooth will never go away on its own due to the nature of the infection. You will also be at risk because your immune system will be compromised and you may be more susceptible to getting sick.
If the abscess is not immediately apparent, your dentist may do the following to diagnose the tooth:
  • See if the tooth is causing you pain.
  • Take an x-ray of the affected area.
  • Refer you to an endodontist.
An endodontist is one who specializes in the inner workings of the tooth.

How Is An Abscessed Tooth Treated?


The infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics will help to cure the infection, but they won’t cure the abscess.

Root Canal Therapy (RCT)

If you have insurance coverage and the budget for root canal therapy, it is the best option for treatment. This way you will be able to save the main structure of the tooth and the dentist will be able to cure the tooth. They will do this by creating an opening at the top of the tooth and using different tools to clear out the inner pulp of the tooth. Afterward, the dentist will most likely recommend you get a crown. The crown will cover the hole in the tooth, and fortify it. A root canal will take a few days to complete.

Tooth Extraction

If RCT is not an option, the tooth will need to be extracted. You can’t leave an abscessed tooth in your mouth untreated, the end result may be fatal if it is allowed to progress enough.


A periodontal abscess will need to be drained.

Note: Your abscess may rupture on its own. This may seem like a good thing since you can experience pain relief, but the abscessed tooth will still need to be treated by a dentist or endodontist.

Can You Treat A tooth Abscess At Home?

No! There are different remedies online that talk about treating it at home, you cannot cure a dental abscess without professional assistance (but here is a few things you can do to prepare for RCT.) If you are considering trying any of these at-home remedies it will be a waste of time, and you will only prolong fixing the problem.

Can An Abscessed Tooth Be Prevented?

You may not be able to prevent an abscessed tooth if it was a result of trauma. This is because the break in the tooth can allow any amount of bacteria in, which is naturally occurring in our mouths.
However, there are definite steps you can take to help prevent a tooth abscess:
  • Get a dental checkup every 6 months (twice a year).
  • Have excellent oral care (check out our guide).
  • If you notice a tooth has broken, get it repaired immediately.
  • Limit the number of sugary drinks and food (these promote tooth decay).
  • Make sure you are getting enough fluoride.
rct 2

What Can I Eat With An Abscessed Tooth?

If you do have an abscessed tooth, you will want to eat soft foods. Pressure on the tooth, or the infected area of the gums will cause you varying degrees of pain.
Some common soft foods to eat are:
  • Yogurt
  • Soft bread
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Creamy soups
You’ll want to stay away from foods like Jell-O or ice cream due to the sugar and your tooth may be sensitive to temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

No! You may have seen this online, this will not work and may only worsen the situation.

You can see our listed prices for a dental extraction, or RCT here. Your total cost may vary based on different factors like antibiotics.

A tooth abscess may be an emergency! It depends on how severe the abscess is, and how long it’s been there. If it is discovered early, it isn’t necessarily an emergency.

Root canal therapy will save the original tooth structure which is always the best outcome. Wondering what happens when you don’t get a root canal? Check out the complications of a tooth abscess.

It is highly recommended that you get a tooth crown. This will fortify the tooth, and help prevent further infection. Getting a tooth crown is, however, optional.

It is highly recommended that you get a tooth crown. This will fortify the tooth, and help prevent further infection. Getting a tooth crown is, however, optional.

Tell Your Friends

Book Your Appointment

Step 1 of 3