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Tooth Abscess: Types, Causes, & Treatments

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A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that can form in different areas in the mouth. This is caused by a bacterial infection and can cause moderate to severe pain and swelling of the face and neck. Untreated abscesses or infections can lead to life threatening conditions.

Types of Abscesses and their causes:

Periapical Abscess: An abscess that forms at the apex or at the end of the root of the tooth caused by the invasion of bacteria in the pulp. This happens when a cavity is very deep or when an injury results in a tooth fracture reaching the pulp of the tooth, thereby exposing it to bacteria.

Periodontal Abscess: an abscess that forms at the gum-line of the tooth. This is caused by gum infections due to poor oral hygiene. This may also spread to surrounding tissues

Gingival Abscess: an abscess on the gums caused by foreign material like food debris


  • Lump on gums
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Pain upon chewing or biting
  • Pain radiating to the neck or ear
  • Foul taste in mouth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth mobility
  • Tooth Discoloration
  • Facial swelling
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever


  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics can help eliminate the infection causing the abscess.
  • Incision and Drainage: The dentist will make a small incision to drain the pus.
  • Root Canal Treatment: The dentist will drill the tooth to make an opening where the pus can drain. The dentist will then remove the infected pulp and fill and seal the pulp chamber to save your tooth.
  • Extraction: Removing the infected tooth can also remove the infection.
  • Removal of foreign object: If the abscess is caused by a foreign object, simply removing the foreign object may be all that’s needed to treat the abscess.

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