What Is an Abscessed Tooth?

What Is an Abscessed Tooth?

December 2, 2021 / in / by Fort Worth Children's Dentistry
Abscessed Tooth

This is a tooth with a pocket containing pus that develops due to an infection caused by bacteria. A dental abscess can cause moderate to severe pain. The pain can radiate towards your neck or ear. Lack of treatment can result in a harsh and life-threatening condition.


What Causes an Abscessed Tooth?

Each of your teeth has a pulp made of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues inside it. Your tooth can get infected due to various reasons. Sometimes the infection can result from dental problems. Tooth decay, gum disease, or having a cracked tooth are among the risk factors.

Untreated infection can kill the pulp inside your tooth and form an abscess. You can develop an abscess in different spots as it can spread through the bone. You can also have various types of abscess. There are two types, a periodontal and a periapical.

A periodontal abscess affects the bone next to your tooth. A periapical one develops at the tips of the root of your tooth. 



You are likely to experience throbbing pain around your gums or near your tooth. These are the main symptoms of an abscessed tooth. The pain is abrupt and grows worse with time.

Other symptoms are:

  • Radiating pain towards your neck, ear, or jaw.
  • Pain when you lie down.
  • Pain when biting or chewing.
  • Facial swelling and redness.
  • Swollen gums.
  • Red gums.
  • Loose or discolored teeth.
  • Tooth sensitivity.
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes.
  • Foul taste inside your mouth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Fever.


When to See a Doctor 

Visit your doctor once you develop any abscess tooth symptoms. Go to an emergency room if you cannot reach your dentist and have a fever or swelling in your cheek or face. Also, rush to an emergency room if you struggle with swallowing or breathing. Getting such symptoms shows that the infection has spread. The spread can go past your jawbone into other parts of your body or the surrounding tissue.



Your dentist will examine the affected tooth and its surrounding area. They can tap on your teeth to locate the sensitive one that has an abscess. They can also use an X-ray to check the affected tooth and discover the problem. An X-ray can also check the extent or spread of the infection. The dentist can perform a CT scan if the infection has spread past your mouth to check its extent.



The goal of treating an abscessed tooth is to get rid of the infection that caused it. Your dentist can treat your abscess by:

  • Prescribing antibiotics – Your dentist can recommend the use of antibiotics. They can prescribe antibiotics if the infection has spread past the site to other parts of your body. It is not possible to cure the abscess, but the doctor can treat the contamination.
  • Pulling the affected tooth – If the doctor cannot save the abscessed tooth, they will extract it. After the extraction, they will drain the abscess to clear the infection.
  • Doing a root canal – Your dentist can perform a root canal to end the infection. They will drill into your affected tooth, remove the pulp, and drain the abscess. They will fill and seal the pulp chamber and root canal.
  • Incising and draining – Your dentist can cut open into your abscess to drain it out. They will then wash the cut area using saline water.

For more on abscessed teeth, visit Fort Worth Children's Dentistry at our office in Fort Worth, Texas. You can also call 817-330-6784 to book an appointment today.