Tooth abscess

  • Alternative Names

    Periapical abscess; Dental abscess; Tooth infection; Abscess - tooth


    The goals of treatment are to cure the infection, save the tooth, and prevent complications.

    Antibiotics may be given to fight the infection. Warm salt-water rinses may be soothing. Over-the-counter pain relievers may relieve the toothache and fever.

    Do NOT place aspirin directly over the tooth or gums, because this increases irritation of the tissues and can result in mouth ulcers.

    A root canal may be recommended in an attempt to save the tooth.

    If there is a severe infection, the tooth may be removed or surgery may be needed to drain the abscess. Some people may need to be admitted to the hospital.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Untreated abscesses may get worse and can lead to life-threatening complications.

    Prompt treatment usually cures the infection. The tooth can usually be saved in many cases.

    • Loss of the tooth
    • Mediastinitis
    • Sepsis
    • Spread of infection to soft tissue (facial cellulitis, Ludwig's angina)
    • Spread of infection to the jaw bone (osteomyelitis of the jaw)
    • Spread of infection to other areas of the body resulting in brain abscess, endocarditis, pneumonia, or other complications

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your dentist if you have a persistent, throbbing toothache.