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What is Tooth Abscess?

A dental abscess, or tooth abscess, is a painful bacterial infection caused by accumulation of pus, which can cause swelling and inflammation that forms at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth.

Most infections are more likely to have been caused by poor dental health due to direct growth of bacteria within the root surfaces of a tooth into the supporting soft tissues and bones and can result from lack of proper and timely oral care. They can also occur from previously performed dental procedures as they get older and start to leak and fail.

Bacteria present in plaque, a by-product of food, saliva and bacteria in the mouth which sticks to the teeth, damages and infects them, make their way into a tooth, either through untreated severe tooth decay or a chip or crack in the tooth, gum disease, trauma, or sometimes even due to recent dental procedures such as extractions and implants and can extend down into the root, the gums, the cheek, the throat, the tissues beneath the tongue, or even into the jaw or facial bones.

If the plaque is not removed by regular and proper oral care, the bacteria may spread within the soft tissue inside the tooth or gums, eventually resulting in an abscess.

Pain may not always be present. It may range from mild to severe. It can become very painful when tissues become inflamed or due to the pressure within the abscess. Depending on a number of factors, the abscess may range from chronic to acute, and stable (not changing) to rapidly spreading.

If it remains untreated long enough, the infection can in some cases spread beyond the teeth and bone through the bloodstream to other areas of the body where it can damage organs and even be life-threatening if it spreads to the brain, causes septicemia (infection of the bloodstream), or if swelling obstructs the airway and compromises breathing.

If you have a weakened immune system and you leave a tooth abscess untreated, your risk of a spreading infection increases even more.

The condition will often become progressively more painful until the abscess either ruptures and drains on its own or is drained surgically.

It’s important to get help as soon as possible, because abscesses don’t go away without treatment.

Dentists in India perform various procedures to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp (nerve) inflammation or infection.

Dentists in India

Signs and symptoms include:

Throbbing pain or sharp or shooting pain in the affected area are common symptoms of an abscessed tooth. The pain usually starts suddenly, and becomes more intense over the subsequent hours or days. In some cases the pain may radiate to the ear, jawbone and neck.

Other symptoms may include

  • Redness and swelling of the affected area and gums
  • Affected area may be very sore or painful
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
  • An open, draining sore on the side of the gum
  • Pain in the bone around the tooth
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot food and liquids
  • Foul taste in the patient’s mouth
  • Patient finds it harder to open his/her mouth
  • Swallowing difficulties

If the pulp in the root of the tooth becomes dies as a result of infection, becomes inflamed and goes untreated, the toothache may stop. However, this doesn’t mean the infection has healed; the infection remains active and continues to spread and destroy tissue.

Therefore, if you experience any of the above listed symptoms, see your dentist immediately even if the pain subsides.

Treatments for a dental abscess

The only person who can effectively treat a dental abscess is a dentist. Treatment may involve typical dental procedures, and in some cases occasional surgery.

Painkillers may help reduce the pain while the patient is waiting for treatment but they are only there for pain reduction, they cannot replace the visit to a dentist.

Dental abscesses are treated by removing the source of the infection and draining away the pus. To preserve the tooth, and prevent complications are the goals of treatment for an abscessed tooth.

Achieving drainage may be done through the tooth by a procedure known as root canal treatment. Dentists in Delhi especially in the reputed dental clinics in Delhi, are doing 90 percent of the root canals in just 1 sitting.

Root surgery may also be recommended to remove any diseased root tissue after the infection has subsided. Then, a crown may be placed over the tooth.

A recurring infection may need to have diseased tissue surgically removed.

If the dental abscess recurs, even after surgery the tooth may also be extracted, allowing drainage through the socket.


An infected tooth that has not received appropriate dental care can cause a dental abscess to form. Following good oral hygiene practices can reduce the risk of developing a tooth abscess. So, prevention plays a major role in maintaining good dental health.

Dentists in dental clinics in Delhi and India are following a systematic protocol of reminding patients for their 6 monthly regular dental checkups so that a cavity can be detected and treated at an incipient stage.

Also, if your teeth experience trauma or if it becomes chipped, seek prompt dental attention.

Posted by- Dr Suprriya and Dr Shriya