Dental abscess

"Tooth abscess can be extremely painful and, if not treated properly, can have serious consequences for overall oral health."


What is a dental abscess?

A tooth abscess is a collection of pus caused by a bacterial infection in or around a tooth. Pus is a mixture of dead cells, infected tissue and bacteria. When a tooth abscess forms, pus builds up in a pocket or cavity.

The tooth abscess can affect different parts of the tooth and surrounding tissues. It may be present in the root of the tooth (periapical abscess) or in the gums near the tooth (periodontal abscess). In either case, it is a painful and potentially serious condition that requires proper dental care.

What are the symptoms of a dental abscess?

Tooth abscess can present with a variety of symptoms that indicate the presence of an infection.

The most common symptoms of tooth abscess are:

  • Intense and persistent pain in the affected area.
  • Tenderness when biting or chewing food.
  • Swelling of the face or cheek.
  • Fever and general malaise.
  • Headache.
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • Difficulty opening the mouth or swallowing.

The most common symptoms of a brain abscess are

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Neck stiffness

It can also be accompanied by altered levels of consciousness or seizures.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have an abscessed tooth

What are the causes of a tooth abscess?

Tooth abscess develops mainly due to a bacterial infection in the mouth. There are several common causes that can result in a tooth abscess.

These include:

Tooth decay

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is one of the main causes of tooth abscesses. When tooth decay is not treated in time, it can reach the center of the tooth (pulp) and cause an infection.

Gum infection

Gingivitis or periodontitis, which are forms of gum disease, can lead to periodontal abscess formation. These infections affect the soft tissues around the tooth and can spread to the roots.

Dental trauma

A blow or injury to the tooth can damage the tooth structure and allow bacteria to enter the inside of the tooth or gums, leading to a tooth abscess.

Tooth blockage

If a tooth is partially clogged, as with wisdom teeth, bacteria can become trapped around the gum tissue and cause an abscess to form.

Preventive measures for dental abscess

Prevention is key when it comes to dental abscesses. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing this dental condition. Here are some preventive tips to keep in mind:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene: brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly. This will help remove bacteria and food debris that can cause infections.
  • Visit the dentist regularly: Make regular visits to the dentist for checkups and dental cleanings. This will help detect dental problems in early stages and prevent abscess formation.
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks: Excessive consumption of sugar can increase the risk of tooth decay, which can lead to tooth abscess formation. Limit your intake of sugary foods and beverages and opt for healthier options.
  • Don't ignore dental pain: If you experience persistent dental pain or changes in your oral health, don't ignore it. Seek dental care immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How is dental abscess treated?

Treatment of dental abscess depends on the severity of the infection and the extent of the abscess.

Dental treatment

Dental treatment focuses on eliminating the infection and restoring oral health. Some of the dental treatment options include:

  • Abscess drainage: In cases of large or painful abscess, the dentist may perform drainage to release the accumulated pus. This will relieve pressure and promote healing.
  • Endodontics: Endodontics, also known as root canal therapy, is performed when infection affects the pulp tissue inside the tooth. During this procedure, the root canal is cleaned and sealed to prevent future infection.
  • Tooth extraction: If the tooth is severely damaged and cannot be saved, it may need to be extracted. Tooth extraction is performed under local anesthesia and the dentist will make sure you are as comfortable as possible during the procedure.

Pharmacological treatment

In addition to dental treatment, medical treatment may be needed to treat a tooth abscess. This may include:

  • Antibiotics: If the infection has spread to other areas of the body or if there is a risk of spread, antibiotics may be prescribed to control the infection.
  • Analgesics: To relieve pain and reduce inflammation, over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers may be recommended.

It is important to keep in mind that medical treatment alone is not sufficient to treat a tooth abscess. It is always necessary to seek dental care to address the underlying cause of the abscess and prevent future infections.

Where do we treat it?


The Dental Unit
at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

The Clínica Universidad de Navarra has extensive experience in rehabilitation with dental implants, with highly satisfactory results for patients and professionals.

In order to achieve better care for complex patients or those with risk factors which may influence safety during the intervention, we work together with the different medical services of the Clinica: Cardiology, Endocrinology, Allergology, Pediatrics, Speech Therapy, etc.

Diseases we treat

  • Dental abscess
  • Cavities
  • Periodontal disease
  • Loss of teeth
  • Dental pain
  • Malocclusions

Treatments we perform

  • Dental Implants
  • Orthodontics
  • Dental surgery
  • Endodontics
  • Fixed dental prosthesis on teeth and implants
  • Removable prosthesis
  • Cleaning and teaching of oral hygiene
  • Pediatric dentistry
Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • Safety and comfort in our treatments while being in a hospital.
  • Equipped with the best technology on the market.
  • Multidisciplinary work with the rest of the specialists of the Clínica.

Our team of professionals

Dental specialists with experience in treating tooth abscesses

Frequently asked questions about dental abscess

The healing time of a tooth abscess can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the treatment received. In general, it may take several days or weeks for the abscess to heal completely. It is important to follow the dentist's instructions and take all prescribed medications to facilitate healing.

Dental abscesses themselves are not contagious. However, the bacteria responsible for the infection can be transmitted from one person to another through direct contact or the exchange of saliva. Therefore, it is important to avoid sharing eating utensils or toothbrushes to prevent the spread of infection.

A tooth abscess will not go away on its own without proper dental treatment. The infection will continue and may worsen over time, which can have serious consequences for your oral and overall health. Always seek dental care to receive the necessary treatment.

If you experience pain from an abscessed tooth before you can see a dentist, there are some steps you can take to temporarily relieve the pain. These include rinsing your mouth with warm salt water, applying cold compresses to the affected area, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers as directed.

If not properly treated, a tooth abscess can lead to serious complications, such as spread of infection to surrounding tissues, development of systemic infections, bone damage and loss of the affected tooth. Therefore, it is essential to seek dental care as soon as possible.