Tel: (617) 332-2872

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Newton, MA 02459

What is a dental abscess and how to treat it

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms on your gums. Often, the gum becomes swollen and red, like a boil. An abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. 

Types of dental abscess

  1. Gingival: an abscess that begins in the gums and doesn’t usually affect any teeth.
  2. Periapical: an abscess that begins at the tip of the root of a tooth. If the tooth is broken (or cracked), the infection can impact the pulp of the involved tooth.  
  3. Periodontal: an abscess that begins in the jawbone and tissues surrounding the tooth. This type of abscess tended to be more common when periodontal disease is involved.

Symptoms of a dental abscess

The most common symptoms of a dental abscess are:

  • A throbbing toothache
  • Swelling in your face
  • Discomfort (or pain) when chewing
  • Sudden sensitivity with hot and cold food or drink
  • Sharp or shooting pain in your tooth or jaw

How to treat a dental abscess

As with any infection, the goal of treatment for a tooth abscess is to treat the infection. This can be done in a few ways:

  • Antibiotics: If your dentist sees the infection has spread, they will likely prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics will help stop the infection from spreading further than the affected area. 
  • Drain the abscess: In some cases, your dentist may be able to drain the puss from the pocket and clean it out. 
  • Root canal: If the abscess has affected a tooth, your dentist may recommend a root canal. The root canal will allow your dentist to remove the infected pulp from the tooth, fill it with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha, and seal it with a filling. Sometimes, your dentist might advise capping the tooth with a crown to make it stronger. 
  • Extraction: If the affected tooth cannot be saved, your dentist will likely pull the tooth and drain the underlying abscess.

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your jaw or tooth, don’t hesitate to call us at (617) 332-2872. We can set up an appointment to assess the site of the pain and make a treatment plan. For any other appointments, feel free to use our online booking form.

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