What Are Dental Abscesses and How Can They Be Prevented?

Prevent Dental Abscess

What is a Dental Abscess?

Good question. Dental abscesses, though not as common as cavities and not as publicized as Gingivitis, pose a serious threat to your oral health. An abscess is an infection that starts in your tooth, but can spread rapidly to your mouth, jaw, face, or even throat if untreated. Original causes of the infection can include a deep, untreated cavity, a cracked tooth, but mainly poor and infrequent dental care.

The Types

  • A periapical abscess is the most common form and it results in a localized collection of pus that forms at the apex, or tip, of a tooth. This can spread from the tooth to the surrounding tissue quickly. Usually these start in a dead tooth and spread to others.
  • Periodontal abscesses, sometimes called lateral abscesses, are signified by a collection of pus around the tooth, but these infections occur alongside a tooth, not below it. In contrast to periapical abscesses, these infections usually start in a tooth that is vital (still living).
  • Gingival Abscesses involve only the gum and don’t affect the periodontal ligament or the tooth initially


  • Continuous throbbing, shooting, or sharp pain in the jaw area (certain abscesses still may be present without pain)
  • Swelling in the face or cheek
  • Increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Swollen lymph nodes under your jaw and in your neck


  • Medications like Penicillin, anti-inflammatories and other antibiotics can be used to treat the pain.
  • Medical treatments are the most effective to treat abscesses. These include root canal, drainage of the pus, or removal of the tooth entirely.
  • Permanent solutions are only attainable through medical procedures, so if you suffer from the symptoms, talk to your dentist right away!

Untreated Consequences

  • Infection can spread internally and externally.
  • Can cause cellulitis (skin bacterial infection) and Osteomyelitis (bone marrow inflammation)
  • Hospitalization would be required if left alone for long enough

Even though dental abscesses are fairly common and are potentially harmful, they can be prevented easily. Brushing your teeth twice a day along with flossing regularly are two simple ways to reduce the possibility of you getting an infection. These will prevent cavities which will prevent abscesses. If you think you might be suffering from an abscess, schedule an appointment with Delicate Smiles Dental today or call us at 303-340-3330.