A dental abscess is the result of an infected tooth or may be the result of severe gum disease.
The abscess itself—which is a swollen area typically filled with pus—forms at the root of the
tooth that’s infected. A dental abscess is usually painful and will require treatment as soon as
But how exactly is a dental abscess treated? Your dentist may recommend the following
treatment options depending on how severe your tooth abscess is.
Draining the Abscess
First, your dentist or endodontist—a dentist who specializes in saving teeth—will need to drain
the abscess of the infection. Your dentist will gently lance the abscess to rid it of any pus and
other material before moving on to actually treating your tooth.
If your dental abscess was caused by gum disease, at this point your dentist may recommend a
deep cleaning (also called a root planing and scaling) to treat your gum disease and prescribe a
course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from coming back.
Root Canal Therapy
If the original infection was the result of infected nerve tissue (also called the pulp) inside the
tooth, root canal therapy may be able to help. An infection in the center of your tooth can
happen as the result of decay, an injury, or a cracked or chipped tooth.
When a dental abscess is present, the infected pulp will need to be removed and the tooth
sealed in order to fix the issue and stop the infection from returning. Depending on your unique
case, you may or may not receive a dental crown once the procedure is complete to protect
However, for some people, root canal therapy may not be possible to save the tooth. If your
dentist suspects the tooth can’t be saved, he or she may recommend extraction.
Some patients will need to have their tooth extracted as a result of their dental abscess. Your
dentist will discuss the options with you beforehand to ensure the form of treatment is in your
Your dentist can also talk with you about replacing your tooth after the extraction. It’s
important to replace your natural tooth as the loss of a tooth can also cause loss of jaw bone
and shifting teeth, which can change your smile over time.
A dental abscess can be very painful and should be evaluated by a dentist as soon as possible.
Whether the infection originally began in your tooth or in the gum tissue, your dentist can help
to drain and treat the abscess to provide you with relief and get your smile healthy again!