Family Dentistry Questions: What Is an Abscessed Tooth and How Is It Treated?

Posted on: October 22, 2019

Family dentistry Boca Raton, FL

In family dentistry, many people have questions about dental abscesses, including what causes them and how they are treated. Let's take a look at the answers to these questions.

Family dentistry questions: What is an abscessed tooth and how is it treated?

An abscessed tooth is an infection that occurs when a pocket of pus forms around the root of the tooth. It is a problem that can affect both children and adults and can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

What causes an abscessed tooth?

The human tooth is hard on the outside, but the inside is filled with nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, which make up the pulp. An infection can occur if bacteria get to the pulp through a dental cavity or a crack or chip in the tooth. Infection can also be caused by tooth decay or gum disease. Failure to treat the infection can lead to an abscessed tooth.

What are the different types of dental abscesses?

The two types of dental abscesses are a periapical abscess and a periodontal abscess. A periapical abscess occurs when bacteria invade the dental pulp and form at the tip of the tooth’s root, while a periodontal abscess affects the bone next to the root.

What are the symptoms of an abscessed tooth?

Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Redness of the gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Fever
  • Pain when chewing

In some cases, a dental abscess can cause pimple-like bumps on the gums. If pus oozes out when the pimple is pressed, it is a sure sign that the person has an abscess.

How is an abscessed tooth treated?

There are several ways that an abscessed tooth can be treated in family dentistry, including:

Opening the abscess

This involves the dentist cutting open the abscess, allowing the pus to drain out and then washing the area with saltwater.

Root canal

A dentist will opt for a root canal to treat an abscess if they feel that the infected tooth can still be salvaged. To do this, the dentist drills into the tooth, removes the infected pulp and drains the abscess. They will then fill up and seal the pulp chamber and root canals. If most of the tooth had to be removed, the dentist can cover up the remaining part of the tooth with a dental crown.

Pulling the tooth

Dentists usually try to save a natural tooth, but if the infected tooth cannot be saved, they will extract the tooth to get rid of the infection and prevent it from spreading.


If the infection spreads to nearby teeth or other areas, the dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading to other areas. They may also recommend antibiotics to treat the infection if the patient has a weak immune system.


A dental abscess is a painful condition that can lead to other problems in the mouth, jaw and other parts of the body. If you have an abscessed tooth, contact your family dentist to treat it before it spreads to other parts of your body.

Request an appointment here: or call iSmile Dental – Dr. James Helmy at (561) 225-2054 for an appointment in our Boca Raton office.

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