A dental abscess is a pus pocket associated with a specific damaged tooth. There are five types, though most instances are either periapical abscess or a periodontal abscess (See more on all in “types” section below).



Symptoms & Treatment

Abscesses can be extremely painful or painless. Pain can be sharp, dual, shooting or throbbing and impossible to touch. It can extend beyond the actual infection into surround cheek and gums. If there is no pain, swelling can still be a problem. Heat will only inflame the boil, but cold compresses to the cheek and jaw can ease some pain. If the abscess is seated deeply into the bone, it can drain into the surrounding tissue, creating excessive swelling in the face or lymph glands in the neck. Migraines can also happen as the pain spreads.


The first action is to eliminate the bacterial infection. This can be done by opening and draining the sore or with antibiotics. The next step depends on whether the tooth can be salvaged. If so, a root canal therapy can be performed. If not, the tooth needs to be removed and the offending or damage tissue removed.



Periapical abscess: The outcome of a prolonged infection at the very tip of a tooth root.  Periodontal abscess: Begins in the soft tissues that surround and support a live tooth.

Gingival abscess: Only ails the gum tissue and doesn’t infect the tooth or ligaments that connect it to its socket.

Pericoronal abscess: Results from an infected crown in a tooth.

Combined periodontic-endodontic abscess: The joining of a tooth-tip and gum infection.