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If you have ever experienced a severe, throbbing toothache, it may have been caused by a dental abscess. A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms due to a bacterial infection.
Abscesses can occur in different regions of the tooth for various reasons, including untreated tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma to the tooth. While they may start out small, abscesses can quickly worsen and lead to serious complications if left untreated.

What Causes a Dental Abscess?

The main cause of a dental abscess is bacterial infection. When bacteria enter the inner areas of the tooth through deep cavities, cracks, or chips, it can cause inflammation and infection within the soft pulp tissue. This can lead to a pocket of pus forming at the base of the root, known as a periapical abscess. Abscesses can also occur in the gums, forming a periodontal abscess due to gum disease.

Symptoms of a Dental Abscess

The key symptoms of an abscess include:

  1. Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that may radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear
  2. Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  3. Swollen area of the gum near the affected tooth
  4. Swollen area of the jaw or face
  5. Fever
  6. Difficulty swallowing
  7. A foul taste in the mouth

If the infection spreads, symptoms can worsen and include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, increased fever, and generalized discomfort and illness.

Treating a Dental Abscess

It’s crucial to seek dental treatment as soon as possible if you suspect you have an abscess. Abscesses will not go away on their own and can lead to serious or life-threatening complications if the infection spreads.

Your dentist will likely need to perform a root canal procedure on the affected tooth to remove the infected pulp and drain the abscess.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed to help clear the bacterial infection. In severe cases, tooth extraction may be required. You can help relieve symptoms while waiting for treatment by taking over-the-counter pain medication, using cold compresses on the swollen area,
getting plenty of rest, and avoiding very hot or cold foods that may cause pain.

The best way to prevent dental abscesses is to maintain excellent oral hygiene through regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental cleanings and exams. Catching cavities and gum disease early can stop the infection before an abscess develops.

Don’t ignore signs of a dental abscess. With prompt treatment, the infection
can be cleared up. But delaying care can put you at risk for the infection
spreading to other areas and causing serious health issues. If you
experience persistent tooth pain or swelling, contact your dentist right

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