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Graphic of a dental abscess

Dental abscesses are a common and painful infection that can form in the teeth or gums. They typically appear as a pimple-like swelling on the gums. Left untreated, an abscess can cause serious health problems. They may also cause pain, redness, and tenderness in the affected area. In some cases, dental abscesses can also lead to fever and nausea.

Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent more serious complications. If you think you have a dental abscess, it’s essential to see your dentist for treatment.

What Is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is a pus-filled infection that can form in the tooth or gum tissue. Dental abscesses can be extremely painful because the infection causes inflammation and pressure in the affected area. Dental abscesses can even lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by infection.


Early symptoms of a dental abscess include pain and swelling around the affected tooth. The pain is often sharp and throbbing, radiating to other parts of the head. As the infection progresses, the pain may become more severe, and the swelling may increase.

The skin around the tooth may also turn red or purple. A pus-filled blister may form on the gum. If the infection spreads to other parts of the body, it can cause fever, chills, and fatigue. Untreated dental abscesses can cause serious complications, including death.


Dental abscesses are usually caused by bacteria that build up in the mouth and enter the tooth through a crack or cavity. Once the bacteria reach the tooth’s pulp chamber, they can begin to multiply, causing an infection.

Gingival and periodontal abscesses are often caused by untreated gum disease or food particles trapped in the gum pockets.

Risk Factors

Factors that can increase your risk of developing a dental abscess include:

Poor oral hygiene

Bacteria can build up in your mouth if you don’t brush and floss regularly. This can increase your risk of developing an infection.

Cracks or cavities in your teeth

These provide an entry point for bacteria to reach the inner layers of your tooth.

Gum disease

This condition causes inflammation and irritation in the gums, making it easier for bacteria to enter the tooth.

A weakened immune system

This can make it harder for your body to fight off infection.


Dental abscesses need to be treated by a dentist. The goal of treatment is to drain the pus from the abscess and relieve the pain. Treatment typically involves one or more of the following:

Incision and drainage

This procedure involves numbing the area and then making a small cut to drain the pus. Your dentist may insert drainage tubes to allow pus and fluids to continue draining out over several days.

Root canal

This procedure involves opening the tooth crown, removing the infected tissue from inside the pulp chamber, and disinfecting the tooth. The tooth is then sealed with gutta-percha and a filling. Your dentist may recommend a dental crown to reinforce the tooth’s structural integrity.

Tooth extraction

In some cases, the tooth may need to be removed. If the tooth is severely damaged and cannot be saved with a root canal, or your dentist cannot drain the tooth effectively, you may need a tooth extraction.

After the infection has been drained, you will need to take antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or metronidazole, to clear the infection completely.

Visit Steger Smiles for Abscess Treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment of a dental abscess can often prevent more serious oral health complications.

At Steger Smiles, we offer comprehensive dental care for patients of all ages. To make an appointment, call us today at (708) 754-8090 or schedule an appointment online.

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