Tooth Abscess – Causes, Symptoms, Complications and Remedies

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A tooth bleeding which being inspected by a dentist.

Infection inside tooth pulp causing pus collection;
a condition of tooth abscess.

An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth. It could be caused by caries or broken or chipped tooth resulting from a trauma. Common recommended treatment for this condition is root canal therapy. Read further for more informations.

A tooth abscess is a collection of infected material (pus) caused by bacterial infection of the center of a tooth (tooth pulp).

Causes, Development and Risk Factor
Tooth abscess or suppurated tooth is actually a complication of dental caries. It also can occur as a result of trauma to the teeth (for example when tooth broken or chipped). Opened enamel (cavity) allows bacteria entry which will infect center part of tooth (pulp). Infection may spread out form the tooth root to the bone to that support the tooth.

Infection then cause pus collection (comprises of dead tissues, dead and live bacteria, white blood cell) and tissue swelling inside tooth. This caused toothache. If tooth root structure is dead, toothache may disappear, but infection is still active and continues to spread further and destroy tissues.

Tooth abscess symptoms

  • Toothache
    • Severe and continuous toothache
    • Throbbing pain.
  • Pain when chewing.
  • Tooth is sensitive to cold or hot water/food.
  • Bitter taste in the mouth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Possibility of fever.
  • Swollen neck gland.
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling.
  • Swollen jaw part (very serious symptom).

Complications of Tooth Abscess

  • Loss of the tooth.
  • Infection spread to soft tissue (facial cellulitis, Ludwig’s angina).
  • Infection spread to jawbone (mandibular osteomyelitis or maxilla).
  • Infection spread to other parts of the body causing cerebral abscess, endocarditis, pneumonia or other disorders.

Self-care Steps

  • To defuse pain, take pain killer medication.
  • Do not put aspirin powder on the tooth. Aspirin will sear gum and destroy the tooth enamel.
  • Do not drink too cold or too hot drinks.
  • Do not chew chewing gum.
  • Avoid sweet, hot and spicy food. Diet in liquid form probably necessary for one or two days until the pain start to disappear.
  • Gargle with warm salt water every each one hour.
  • See the dentist although the pain has gradually subsided.
Dentist treating a patient.


Main purpose of treatment is to eliminate infection, preserve the tooth and prevent complications. Antibiotic may be given to fight infection. Gargling with warm salt water can relieve pain. Analgesic drug acquired from shop may be able defuse toothache and fever. Do not put aspirin directly onto the tooth or gum because it will increase irritability of the tissue and could cause mouth ulcer.

Root canal therapy may be recommended to preserve the tooth. Damaged part of the tooth will be removed together the tooth centre including the nerve and vascular tissues. While the root region and tooth surface are left in. Cavity formed in the core will be filled and repaired. Tooth top part (called crown) is then covered with filler. Excision (drainage through surgery) the suppurated area or damaged tooth extraction/pulling maybe have to be done.

See a dentist if….
You are facing one or more toothache relating problems as listed hereunder:

  • Throbbing or continuous pain.
  • Fever.
  • Earache.
  • Neck or jaw painful when touched or swelling gland at part of the tooth that ache.
  • Not feeling healthy.
  • Halitosis (bad breath) and/or bitter taste in the mouth.

Finally always clean your teeth and have a good dental habit.

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