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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Dentistry Tooth Abscess

Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess also known as root abscess is pus enclosed in the tissues surrounding the jaw bone at the tip of an infected tooth.


Abscess is due to a bacterial infection which leads to pus accumulation in the soft pulp of the tooth. Abscesses have their origin from dead pulp tissue, due to untreated tooth decay, cracked teeth or extensive periodontal disease. A failed root canal treatment or RCT can also cause abscess.

 Tooth Abscess

Types of dental abscess

Signs and Symptoms

  • Severe toothache
  • Pain is continuous and is of gnawing, sharp, shooting, or throbbing nature
  • Pressure or warmth worsens pain
  • Swelling at the base of tooth, gum and cheek.
  • Chronic abscess is usually painless but swelling may be present on the gum
  • Perforated tooth abscess drains in surrounding tissues leading to localized swelling
  • Palpable lymph nodes in the neck due to the infection
  • Patient may have migraine like headache due to referred pain
  • Pain will not transfer across the mouth as the two sides are innervated by different nerves

Treatment and Medications

  • Topical application of oil of cloves containing Eugenol can effectively control pain
  • Surgical elimination of the abscess
  • Root canal therapy or RCT can be performed to restore tooth
  • Tooth which is not restorable needs to be removed
  • Curettage of all apical soft tissues is advised


  • Cyst formation
  • Inadequate root canal therapy
  • Vertical root fractures
  • Foreign material in the lesion
  • Associated periodontal disease
  • Penetration of the maxillary sinus