treating tooth abscess

How is a Tooth Abscess Treated?

If you’ve ever suffered from a tooth abscess, you know how painful it can be! But the good news is that they’re both common and treatable. Our team at Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert is here for you when painful issues like these arise. Here’s everything you need to know about treating a tooth abscess. 

What is a Tooth Abscess? 

You may know that each of your teeth has three major layers: 

  • The protective outer shell, or enamel, is the white that everyone else sees when you smile. 
  • The dentin lies underneath the enamel. Its job is to protect the very core of the tooth, or the pulp.
  • The pulp is the soft, delicate inner layer of the tooth. It’s connected to the gums and roots—meaning if an infection has spread to the pulp, it could cause trouble for the whole mouth.

When a tooth is abscessed, the infection stems from within the soft pulp layer. Because the pulp is connected to the roots and nerves, the pain associated with the infection can be incapacitating. 

How Do I Know if I Have a Tooth Abscess?

While tooth abscess are usually unpleasant, the good news is that they’re also easily identifiable. You may have a tooth abscess if:

  • You’re experiencing sharp, stabbing pains near a certain tooth. If the pain you’re feeling is intense, a tooth abscess may be the culprit. Touching or tapping the tooth usually causes extra sensitivity. The pain may radiate, or spread, to the jawbone, neck, or ear. 
  • Your cheeks or gums are red and/or swollen. As a tooth abscess is a bacterial infection, redness and swelling are common symptoms.
  • The pain is exacerbated by extreme temperatures. Eating ice cream or drinking hot coffee will probably cause you a great deal of discomfort. 
  • Bad-smelling/tasting salty fluid in your mouth. This may happen if the abscess ruptures. It is usually accompanied by immediate pain relief. 

Toothaches can point to a number of problems, but the pain an abscessed tooth brings on is particularly intense. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your dentist, as an abscess can cause serious complications if untreated.

Treating a Tooth Abscess 

Thankfully, a tooth abscess is treatable

  • First, your dentist will take X-rays to see where the infection starts and whether or not it has spread. 
  • Your dentist will drain the abscess by making a small cut in it. 
  • Next, in most cases, you can expect to undergo a root canal. We understand that root canals may cause some anxiety, but any discomfort you might experience is minimal compared to an untreated tooth abscess. A root canal will repair the damaged pulp and get rid of the infection, thus removing the source of the pain.
  • Antibiotics may be necessary if the infection has spread at all. 


Tooth abscesses are a serious infection—ergo, eliminating bacterial buildup by maintaining good oral hygiene keeps them from developing. To prevent a tooth abscess, brush and floss regularly and thoroughly. Also remember to watch your diet, especially your sugar intake, and never miss your regular dental check-ups.

Your Local Dentist in Gilbert 

A tooth abscess can be extremely painful. But our job at Lifetime Family Dental is to treat, reduce, and prevent dental pain. If you think you or a family member are suffering from a tooth abscess, don’t ignore it. Call us right away.

Image by Hatice EROL on Pixabay.