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Do you have a tooth abscess or tooth infection?

Do you have a tooth abscess or tooth infection?

Want to know how to get rid of an abscess on your gum?

A tooth abscess appears as a boil or pimple on your gums and can be extremely painful and uncomfortable.

Tooth abscesses are serious, so the first thing you need to do is book a dentist appointment. 

What is a tooth abscess?

  • A red, swollen bump or boil located around a sore tooth
  • Requires immediate action as it can affect the surrounding teeth
  • Even if an abscess ruptures, you will need dental assistance
  • A tooth abscess may spread infection, resulting in other conditions like sepsis or tooth loss

What causes a tooth infection?

  • Tooth decay, gum disease, and cracked teeth
  • Periapical abscesses occur when bacteria enters your tooth and infects it, resulting in an infection on the tip of its root
  • Periodontal abscesses occur when gum disease pulls the tooth away from the gum, resulting in a space where infection can thrive

Tooth abscess symptoms

  • Severe toothaches, sensitivity to temperature, sensitivity to chewing, fever, facial swelling, swollen lymph nodes, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and redness in the gums
  • If the abscess ruptures, you may taste or smell it

Tooth abscess treatments

  • Prevention methods include drinking fluoridated water, brushing your teeth regularly, using fluoride toothpaste, flossing every day, replacing your toothbrush regularly, eating healthy food during mealtimes, attending dental check-ups, and using a mouth rinse
  • Dental treatments include antibiotics, draining and cleaning the abscess, cleaning and treating gums, root canal treatments, and dental implants
  • Home care methods include putting an ice pack on the outside of your cheek, avoiding tobacco products, and taking your antibiotics as directed

What is a tooth abscess?

Do you notice you have a red, swollen bump or gum boil located around a sore tooth?

This condition is known as an abscessed tooth. A tooth abscess requires immediate action as it may affect the surrounding teeth, so book an appointment immediately.  

If the abscess ruptures, the pain may go away, but you will still require dental treatment. In these cases, the Mayo Foundation warns that the infection could spread to other areas of your head, or even result in sepsis—a life-threatening condition.

Alberta Health Services notes that an abscess can cause long-term damage to your teeth and gums and may result in tooth loss.

What causes a tooth infection?

According to the American Dental Association, there are several potential causes for tooth abscesses, such as:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • A cracked tooth

The cause of your infection will determine what kind of abscess you have. There are two kinds of tooth abscesses: periapical and periodontal.

Periapical abscess

Tooth decay, gum disease, and cracked teeth may result in bacteria entering and damaging your tooth’s pulp—the inner soft tissue.

If this spreading occurs, you may need a root canal—a treatment where we remove the damaged pulp.

If you do not receive a root canal treatment on time, the infection will destroy the pulp and spread into the root tip in the jaw bone.

As pus builds up here, it forms a periapical abscess.

Periodontal abscess

A periodontal abscess, or gum abscess, occurs in the space between the gums and the teeth.

Healthline notes that gum abscesses are usually the result of periodontitis disease, a severe form of gum disease.

Poor oral hygiene causes gum disease. If plaque is not removed through regular brushing and flossing, it releases bacteria that may infect the tooth or surrounding area. Thus, gum abscesses may be found on the side of a tooth root.

Gum disease may also pull the tooth away from the gum, creating another space where bacteria can thrive and form into a gum abscess.

Tooth Abscess Symptoms

According to the Mayo Foundation, the symptoms of tooth abscesses include:

  • Severe toothaches that may even be felt in the jawbone, neck, or ear
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to chewing and biting
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Swollen lymph nodes around your jaw or neck
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Redness in the gum

If the abscess ruptures, you may get a sudden rush of foul-tasting and smelling fluid in your mouth. You may also notice pain relief; however, you will still require dental treatment.

Tooth Abscess Treatments

The best line of defence against a dental abscess is prevention. The Mayo Foundation recommends a number of methods, such as:

  • Drinking fluoridated water
  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Cleaning between your teeth with dental floss or an interdental cleaner every day
  • Replacing your toothbrush at least every three or four months
  • Eating healthy food with few sugary items or between-meal snacks
  • Attending regular dental check-ups
  • Using antiseptic or a fluoride mouth rinse

If you do develop a tooth abscess, you should book a dentist appointment immediately. There are several different forms of tooth abscess treatment we may use depending on the severity of the infection, such as:

  • Antibiotics for tooth infection
  • Draining and cleaning the abscess
  • Cleaning and treating gums if gum disease led to the abscess
  • Giving a root canal treatment in cases of tooth decay or cracked teeth
  • Installing a dental implant (fake tooth) if a tooth extraction is necessary

Afterwards, it is crucial to follow-up with your dentist and attend any scheduled check-ups.

After your appointment, Alberta Health Services notes some steps you can take for care and tooth abscess pain relief at home, like:

  • Putting an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for 10 to 20 minutes at a time with a thin cloth between the ice and your skin
  • Avoiding tobacco products since they slow your ability to heal and increase your risk for gum disease
  • Taking your full course of antibiotics as directed—don’t stop taking them just because you feel better

Do you have questions about tooth infections?

If you suspect you have a tooth abscess, you need to book an appointment. We can treat your abscess and avoid major complications like infection, tooth loss, and sepsis that make ignoring the issue too risky.

If you have questions about tooth abscesses or would like to book a free consultation, get in touch with us.

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