Abscessed tooth

An abscessed tooth is a tooth that has a pocket of pus in the tissues around or beneath it. A bacterial infection or gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis) may cause the bone surrounding the tooth to dissolve and an abscess to form.

Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include pain, swelling, and redness in the gums; a bad taste in the mouth; and fever.

An abscessed tooth is usually treated with:

  • Antibiotics, to destroy the bacteria causing the infection.
  • Drainage of the infection.

If the pulp of the tooth is infected, root canal treatment will be done to remove the infected pulp and try to save the tooth. If root canal treatment is not successful, the tooth will be removed (extraction).

Last Updated: March 20, 2009

Author: Jeannette Curtis

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Steven K. Patterson, BSc, DDS, MPH - Dentist

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