Ouch! You Have an Abscess

Ouch! You Have an Abscess

Aug 19, 2013

The nerve of a tooth is called the dental pulp. When that pulp, which is in the center of each tooth, gets infected it becomes an abscess. An abscess usually occurs when the bacteria from an untreated cavity spreads deep into the tooth. It can also occur when there is a cracked or broken tooth that exposes the dental pulp to bacteria. Some people get an abscess after getting a crown or very large filling because the nerve can be exposed to bacteria in the mouth.


The symptoms of an abscess are not pleasant. They can include the following:

  • discomfort when chewing
  • a dull throb
  • swelling of the gums or jaw
  • fever
  • foul-smelling breath
  • bitter taste in mouth
  • inflamed gums
  • open sore on the gums


A dentist usually diagnoses an abscess after a patient complains of symptoms. There may be visual signs present or the dentist may do an x-ray to confirm the abscess. Your dentist may ask you to bite down to check for discomfort.


Sometimes your dentist may put you on an antibiotic to prevent the infection from spreading. Your dentist may do a root canal to remove the root and clean and treat the area. Then a crown will be placed over the tooth. In some cases an extraction may be necessary to drain the socket before placing a bridge over the area.

In addition, you can apply a warm compress. Rinsing with salt water can also be helpful. Your dentist may suggest an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to stop the swelling.


It’s very important to see your dentist if you suspect an abscess. An untreated abscess can lead to cellulitis or a severe infection. Signs of such an infection can include malaise, fever, swollen lymph nodes and draining sinuses. If you have trouble swallowing or difficulty breathing, then seek immediate medical attention. Ludwig’s angina is a very serious infection that causes bilateral swelling of the mandible and may require hospitalization.

An abscess can be very uncomfortable. However your dentist can clean out the area and prescribe antibiotics to stop the infection quickly. Before you know it you will be back to normal. Seeing your dentist regularly can prevent tooth decay from turning into a serious issue down the line.

Original Source: https://www.craigarmstrongdds.com/oral-surgery/ouch-you-have-an-abscess

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