Abscessed Tooth

What is an Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth is one of the worst dental pains anyone can experience. It may affect only a region of the mouth, but the entire body endures its pain.  Those who suffer from this condition find it extremely difficult to function efficiently.  Consequently they end up suffering the pain at the comfort of their homes. It is an infected tooth that needs attention.

Nature of Abscessed Tooth

An Abscessed Tooth is an infection affecting the root of a tooth or that which is located between the tooth and the gum. This causes openings in the tooth enamel which allows bacteria to enter the center of the tooth, referred to as the pulp. As a result, infection further spreads to the roots of the tooth and into its supporting bones.

Causes of Abscessed Tooth

The main cause for an abscessed tooth is bacterial infection. This is especially true for patients who have undergone complex dental treatments in the past. Research shows that they are more susceptible to this type of infection because it is possible that the exposed pulp or gum of the tooth may have been invaded by the bacteria.

For that reason, it is absolutely important for  patients who have undergone crown, root canal or tooth filling treatment to follow the prescribed medication of their dentist after the dental procedure. However,  these microbes have no chance of multiplying if patients follow proper dental hygiene.

Another possible factor for abscessed tooth is age. The immune system of the body decreases as you age. This  makes elders more susceptible to this type of infection. It is helpful if you can take additional Vitamin C supplements to further increase your tolerance to these types of microbial attacks.  But in any case, following proper hygiene is still very beneficial.

Symptoms of Abscessed Tooth

  • Pain– A common toothache will not result in  gnawing, throbbing, shooting or sharp pain. If you have  this type of pain, it is more likely this is already a sign of an abscessed tooth.
  • Pain on chewing-you may experience pain while chewing
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Teeth sensitivity to cold and hot foods
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Swelling and redness of the gums
  • General discomfort and
  • Foul smell to the breath.[1]

Diagnosis of Abscessed Tooth

Your dentist will examine your teeth and ask questions about the kind of pain you are having.  Pressure on your tooth will cause pain. Using a simple dental probe, your dentist will tap on your tooth  or surrounding gums to find out if there is decay or infection. Sometimes an x-ray is needed to confirm the extent of the abscess and amount of damage to surrounding tissue.[2]


Treatment for Abscessed Tooth

Generally,  the abscessed tooth must be drained to reduce infection and preserve the tooth. Usually this is accomplished be performing a root canal.

  • During a root canal, the nerve and pulp of the tooth is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned before it is sealed once again.
  • In some cases, root canal surgery may also remove the diseased root tissue and a replacement crown will be placed over it.
  • Another option is tooth extraction which allows drainage of the abscess through the socket.
  • The last option is the process of incision through the swollen gum tissue for the dentist to get rid of the abscess contained in it.  [2]

Pain Management in Abscessed Tooth

The pain experienced because of the abscessed tooth will not immediately subside even after draining it.  That is why dentists prescribe antibiotics to prevent the spread of the infection.

To help relieve the pain and discomfort because of the abscessed tooth, dentists recommend warm salt-water rinses and over the counter medication for pain like ibuprofen which includes Motrin or Advil.

Sometimes the dentist prescribes antibiotics to get the infection under control before treating the abscessed tooth.

Common Antibiotics

Abscessed tooth is a result of bacterial infection, so one of the best ways to combat it is through the use antibiotics like amoxicillin, metronidazole, clindamycin, co-amoxiclav, and penicillin.

  • Amoxicillin– This is used as both cure and prevention for abscessed teeth. It may not kill the bacteria causing the infection but it will stop it from multiplying and further destroying the cell walls in the tissues  of your mouth. It is available in different types of brand names like Dispermox, Trimox and Amoxil and can be administered in forms of capsules, tablets, and powder. However, patients should be reminded that use of this antibiotic may result to vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and itching.
  • Clindamycin--This antibiotic is given to individuals who are allergic to the penicillin group. It helps prevent and eliminate the infection and is available under popular brand names like Cleocin. However, it should be taken cautiously with equal intervals. It has a specific prescribed duration because sudden stop in its intake may result in rapid bacterial growth. Some of the common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.
  • Metronidazole —Metronidazole is an antibiotic used against susceptible bacteria. It blocks some of  the bacterial  functions resulting in its elimination. This type of antibiotic is commonly found under the brand name Flagyl and is currently marketed by Pfizer in capsules, tablets and injection forms. Some of the possible side effects of this drug include headaches, nausea and loss of appetite.
  • Co-amoxiclav–Co-amoxiclav is a type of antibiotic which contains amoxicillin trihydrate and potassium clavulanate. It can be purchased under the brand names Synermox, Exclav and Augmentin and has very minor side effects like nausea and diarrhea.
  • Penicillin– Penicillin is another antibiotic commonly given to patients suffering from abscessed tooth. Nevertheless, it should be combined with beta-lactamase inhibitors to protected against the possible offense of these harmful bacterial. In this manner, it effectively blocks the bacterial walls until it ruptures these microbes.

Home Remedies for Abscessed Tooth

If the pain caused by your abscessed tooth happens in the evening, when it usually does, you are left with no other choice but to use the available home remedy which can help relieve you of the pain. There are many effective alternatives. Choose what you have available and what works for you.

  • Place Strepsil throat lozenges right next to the area of the gum suffering from tooth abscess. This will quickly take effect on the infection and ease you of the pain.
  • Crushed garlic on the infected gum for about five minutes to help minimize the spread of the infection
  • Onions inside the mouth to relieve them of the pain.
  • Warm or cold black bags can be soothing. Leave in place for a few hours or overnight. The tannin reduces inflammation and other ingredients can help rid the body of infection. [6]
  • Tea tree oil, should not be swallowed but can provide pain relief and reduce infection.
  • Oil of cloves has relieved pain of abscessed tooth for many, just as it relieves the pain for teething infants.
  • Alkaline mouthwash used 3 or 4 times daily can rinse away pus and keep the infection from spreading. [4]
  • Tincture of echinacea or spilanthes dripped directly onto the abscess helps boost your immune system as it slows the growth of bacteria. [5]
  • Chewing plaintain leaves and placing them on the abscessed area can relieve pain temporarily. [5]
  • Gargling with warm salt water can reduce inflammation. [6]

Tooth Abscess Dangers

Although these  home remedy tips may be used, it is still essential to  see your dentist immediately in the morning. This dental concern can develop into further complications. If you leave an abscessed tooth untreated it is very likely that an eruption on the skin will occur resulting in spreading the  infection. The eruption may ease the patient of the pain temporarily, but the results will be more damaging since you will have more than one tooth to worry about. Abscessed tooth is one of the problems dentists face each day.

When to See the Dentist?

Anytime you have symptoms of an abscessed tooth, go right away to your dentist. It is possible that you have facial swelling and a fever. If this is true an you cannot get to your dentist, go to an emergency room or urgent care center.

Anytime you have difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should also go to the emergency room. It is possible the infection has spread into your jaw and other oral or facial tissues. This can become serious quite quickly.  A bacterial infection in your bloodstream, sepsis, can cause infection in other parts of your body, including your brain and heart. [3]

Prevention of Abscessed Tooth

The best prevention of getting an abscessed tooth is good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss daily in between your teeth.   Keep your immune system healthy.

Modern dental technology, innovations and practices  provide people with convenience and comfort. However, everyone should take note that it is our responsibility to care for our teeth.  It is your teeth. It is your health. Take good care of your oral hygiene because it has affects on all of your health. You have the power to prevent damage by taking good care of your teeth.


  1. http://www.medicinenet.com/abscessed_tooth/article.htm#what_are_the_symptoms_of_an_abscessed_tooth
  2. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/abscessed-tooth
  3. http://www.ehow.com/way_5316775_home-remedies-abscessed-tooth.html
  4. http://www.homeremedycentral.com/en/home-remedies/natural-cure/abscessed-tooth.html
  5. http://www.intelligentdental.com/2011/03/01/home-remedies-for-abscessed-tooth/


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