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Dental Abscess


A dental abscess

is a collection of pus in or around a tooth.

Signs and symptoms of a dental abscess may include any of the following:

  • Toothache, a loose tooth, or a tooth that is very sensitive to pressure or temperature
  • Bad breath, unpleasant taste, and drooling
  • Fever
  • Pain, redness, and swelling of the gums, or swelling of your face and neck
  • Pain or difficulty when you open or close your mouth

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain.
  • Your symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
  • Your mouth is bleeding.
  • You cannot eat or drink because of pain or swelling.
  • You have trouble breathing because of pain or swelling.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your abscess returns.
  • You have an injury that causes a crack in your tooth.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

A dental abscess is diagnosed by

your healthcare provider will examine your teeth and gums. He will check for pus, redness, swelling, or a mass. You may also need x-rays to show broken teeth or fluid buildup. You may need a needle aspiration. A needle is used to take fluid out of the abscess. The fluid is sent to the lab to find out what is causing your abscess.


is done to cure your abscess and prevent more serious problems. Treatment may include:

  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
    • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen decreases pain and lowers a fever. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause kidney damage. Do not take ibuprofen if you have kidney disease, an ulcer, or allergies to aspirin. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Do not drink alcohol if you take acetaminophen.
  • Incision and drainage is a cut in the abscess to allow the pus to drain. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
  • Debridement cuts away damaged, dead, or infected tissue to help the wounds heal.

Mouth care:

Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after you eat, and before you go to sleep. Gently brush your teeth and gums using a brush with soft bristles. See your dentist for regular check-ups.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.