An abscessed tooth is a tooth that has a pocket of pus in the tissues around it. Pus forms when the body tries to fight an infection caused by bacteria. If the pus cannot drain, it forms an abscess. An abscessed tooth can cause red, swollen gums and throbbing pain, especially when you chew. You may have a bad taste in your mouth and a fever, and your jaw may swell.
Damage to the tooth, untreated tooth decay, or gum disease can cause an abscessed tooth.
An abscessed tooth needs to be treated by a dental professional right away. If it is not treated, the infection could spread to other parts of your body. Your dentist will give you antibiotics to stop the infection. He or she may make a hole in the tooth or cut open (lance) the abscess inside your mouth so that the infection can drain, which should relieve your pain. You may need to have a root canal treatment, which tries to save your tooth by taking out the infected pulp and replacing it with a healing medicine and/or a filling. If these treatments do not work, your tooth may have to be removed.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter L466 in the search box to learn more about "Abscessed Tooth: Care Instructions."
Current as of:
September 22, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
© 2006-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.