What Is an Abscessed Tooth?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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An abscessed tooth is a term used when a deep infection is present within a tooth or in the gum tissue. This type of infection is commonly caused by untreated dental conditions such as gum disease or cavities. Typical symptoms of an abscessed tooth include moderate to severe pain, a raised bump on the gum tissue surrounding the infected tooth, and facial or jaw swelling. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and may involve the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications, a root canal, or extraction of the infected tooth. Any questions or concerns about possible symptoms of an abscessed tooth or the best treatment options for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Untreated cavities can become so severe that the cavity reaches the pulp of the tooth, leading to an infection that results in an abscessed tooth. Gum disease can cause the gum tissue to slowly separate from the tooth, allowing food particles and bacteria to build up between the tooth and gum. This collection of bacteria can lead to an infection or abscess. As the abscess worsens, uncomfortable symptoms may develop, often forcing the affected person to seek the assistance of a dentist.


Initial symptoms of an abscessed tooth often include discomfort that later turns to extreme throbbing pain, especially when chewing. A fever often develops as a result of the infection, and the face or jaw may begin to swell in the area of the abscessed tooth. A bump that resembles a boil may appear on the gum, or the gums may appear red and swollen. Many people with this condition report a strange taste in the mouth, which may be the result of the infection leaking into the mouth from the abscess.

An untreated abscess can cause significant health problems, especially if the infection moves to the brain or bloodstream. In many cases, an abscessed tooth can be successfully treated with prescription antibiotics, although the damage to the tooth needs to be addressed so that the infection does not occur. A dental procedure known as a root canal may be able to save the affected tooth, although in the more severe cases the tooth may have to be extracted. Depending on the severity, the extraction may consist of simply pulling the tooth, or the tooth may need to be surgically removed. A dentist will be able to help the patient decide on the best course of treatment on an individual basis.


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Post 3

@literally45-- Applying clove oil or tea bags on the abscessed tooth will relieve pain. Gargling with warm salt water several times a day will help treat the infection.

There are also mouthwashes with hydrogen peroxide. Gargling with this helps with inflammation.

None of these are permanent solutions but it will help you manage symptoms of tooth abscess until you can see the dentist.

Post 2

Are there any home remedies to relieve abscessed tooth symptoms? My dentist won't be back in town until next week. Help!

Post 1

I had three infected teeth removed when I was in my twenties and thirties. I didn't know how to care for my teeth, I don't deny that. But I also think that the dentists I went to didn't do their job right.

I don't remember if root canals were common back then but I'm sure it was an option. But my dentists always opted for extraction.

Now that I'm in my fifties, I've had more more teeth problems. One more abscess tooth was removed last year, another had a tooth canal. I'm afraid that I'm going to need tooth implants by the time I'm sixty.

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