How is a tooth abscess treated?
Treatment of a tooth abscess begins with seeking care from your dentist. A tooth abscess can usually be diagnosed by a simple examination by your dentist. An X-ray may be helpful in identifying the extent and location of the infection.
Medications for treatment of a tooth abscess
An abscess is typically treated with antibiotics to fight the bacteria causing the infection. Over-the-counter pain-relieving medication may be helpful in limiting discomfort.
Examples of medical treatments for tooth abscess include:
- Antibiotics, such as penicillin or erythromycin
- Over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
In addition to medical treatment, dental work such as a root canal may be required to repair damage to the tooth. In some cases, the affected tooth may need to be removed. Severe abscesses or an infection that has spread to surrounding tissue may require surgery to drain the area of infection.
Prompt treatment of a tooth abscess and taking all the medication prescribed by your dentist are important in preventing the spread of the infection into deeper tissues and limiting additional complications or recurrence.
What you can do to improve your tooth abscess
Contact your dentist if you think you may have a tooth abscess. Before seeing your health care provider, you may be able to reduce the discomfort associated with your tooth abscess by:
- Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
What are the potential complications of a tooth abscess?
Left untreated, infection from a tooth abscess can spread to the jawbone, brain, heart or lungs and can lead to serious, even life-threatening complications. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of a tooth abscess may include:
- Cellulitis (infection of the skin)
- Development of an abscess in another part of the body, including the brain
- Endocarditis (infection of the heart chambers or valves)
- Gum abscess
- Mediastinitis (infection of the area around the lungs and heart)
- Meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord)
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
- Tooth loss
What is a tooth abscess?
A tooth abscess is a bacterial infection inside a tooth. The infection leads to a buildup of pus inside the center of the tooth, and it can be very painful. The infection can originate as a result of poor dental hygiene or injury to the tooth, which allows bacteria to penetrate deep inside.... Read more about tooth abscess introduction
What are the symptoms of a tooth abscess?
Symptoms of a tooth abscess include toothache, as well as pain and swelling around the infected tooth. Left untreated, a tooth abscess can infect the surrounding tissue, including the jawbone, or cause a serious systemic (body-wide) infection that may lead to fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.... Read more about tooth abscess symptoms
What causes a tooth abscess?
A tooth abscess is caused by bacteria that infect the inside of a tooth. Poor dental hygiene, which leads to dental caries (cavities) or periodontal disease (gum disease), is the most common cause of a tooth abscess. A tooth abscess can also result from bacteria invading tissue in the mouth after dental work or other causes of injury to the teeth, such as chipping and breaking of the teeth.... Read more about tooth abscess causes