A tooth abscess is a sac of infected material called pus in a tooth or the gums.
A tooth abscess is caused by bacteria. It begins when bacteria invade and infect the tissue around a tooth. This results in pus build-up. When the pus is unable to drain, an abscess results.
Conditions that allow bacteria to invade a tooth include:
Factors that may increase your chance of a tooth abscess include:
A tooth abscess may cause:
If left untreated, complications of tooth abscess include:
Your dentist will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A detailed exam of your teeth and gums will be done.
Images may need to be taken of the tooth and surrounding bone. This can be done with x-rays.
A sample of the abscess fluid may be taken and tested.
To help reduce your chance a tooth abscess:
Academy of General Dentistry
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Abscess (toothache). Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/a/abscess. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Acute apical dental abscess. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T435303/Acute-apical-dental-abscess. Updated June 15, 20175. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Dental abscess. NHSinform website. Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mouth/dental-abscess. Updated April 13, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Toothache and Infection. The Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental-disorders/symptoms-of-dental-and-oral-disorders/toothache-and-infection. Updated September 2016. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.