Abscessed Tooth

A tooth abscess is a collection of infected fluid (pus) from a bacterial infection in the inner part of the tooth (pulp). It usually occurs at the end of the tooth's root.


  • A very bad cavity (extensive tooth decay).

  • Trauma to the tooth, such as a broken or chipped tooth, that allows bacteria to enter into the pulp.


  • Severe pain in and around the infected tooth.

  • Swelling and redness around the abscessed tooth or in the mouth or face.

  • Tenderness.

  • Pus drainage.

  • Bad breath.

  • Bitter taste in the mouth.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

  • Difficulty opening the mouth.

  • Feeling sick to your stomach (nauseous).

  • Vomiting.

  • Chills.

  • Swollen neck glands.


  • A medical and dental history will be taken.

  • An examination will be performed by tapping on the abscessed tooth.

  • X-rays may be taken of the tooth to identify the abscess.


The goal of treatment is to eliminate the infection.

  • You may be prescribed antibiotic medicine to stop the infection from spreading.

  • A root canal may be performed to save the tooth. If the tooth cannot be saved, it may be pulled (extracted) and the abscess may be drained.


  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, fever, or discomfort as directed by your caregiver.

  • Do not drive after taking pain medicine (narcotics).

  • Rinse your mouth (gargle) often with salt water (¼ tsp salt in 8 oz of warm water) to relieve pain or swelling.

  • Do not apply heat to the outside of your face.

  • Return to your dentist for further treatment as directed.


  • You have a temperature by mouth above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • You have chills or a very bad headache.

  • You have problems breathing or swallowing.

  • Your have trouble opening your mouth.

  • You develop swelling in the neck or around the eye.

  • Your pain is not helped by medicine.

  • Your pain is getting worse instead of better.