When the tooth is constantly pulsating and keeps you out of pain at night, it can be something more disturbing than ordinary toothache. A tooth abscess is an infection of the tooth that has spread to the tip of the root or around the root. Can a dentist pull an abscessed tooth?

What is tooth abscess?

This infection comes from the inner chamber of the tooth, called the “pulp chamber.” The pulp chamber contains blood vessels and nerves, collectively referred to as “the pulp”. Before the formation of the abscess, the tooth has essentially lost its ability to fight infection, and bacteria are able to invade the pulp chamber and reproduce. When the bacteria reproduce, the bacterial infection usually spreads from the pulp chamber and passes through the bottom of the root to the bone. An abscess is a collection of pus consisting of dead white blood cells, tissue debris, and bacteria.

What is the difference between a tooth abscess and a gum abscess?

A tooth abscess differs from a gum abscess as a source of primary infection. A tooth abscess (or “periapical abscess”) comes from the pulp of the tooth and comes out of the tooth tip at the bottom of the root. A gum abscess (or “periodontal abscess”) begins in the gum pocket outside the tooth next to the root caused by gum disease. Treatment will depend on the source of the infection.

Can a dentist pull an abscessed tooth?

A tooth abscess often causes severe and unrelenting pain. Your dentist can relieve pressure pain by opening and drying the abscess. Removing or treating an infected tooth will permanently eliminate the symptoms, but over-the-counter painkillers or prescription drugs can help alleviate abscess pain when treating an infection with antibiotics. An ice pack on the cheek can also be helpful. Call us for more information on treating tooth abscess symptoms in Northern Virginia.

An abscess can also occur in gum tissue and does not directly affect the tooth. Gum abscess will appear as swelling or boiling on the surface of the gum tissue. This type of abscess can also be very painful and can burst by itself. Untreated infection can spread to neighboring tissues such as sinuses and cause more serious problems.


While waiting for a dentist appointment, painkillers can help control your pain.

  • Ibuprofen is the preferred analgesic for tooth abscesses, but if you can’t take it for medical reasons, you can take paracetamol instead.
  • Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age.
  • If 1 painkiller does not relieve pain, it may be helpful to take both paracetamol and ibuprofen at the doses indicated in the package leaflet.
  • It is safe for adults, but not for children under 16 years.

It can also help:

  • Avoid hot or cold meals and drinks if the pain intensifies
  • Try to eat cool, soft foods, if possible, using the other side of the mouth
  • Use a soft toothbrush and temporarily avoid flossing around the affected tooth

These measures may help temporarily alleviate the symptoms, but they should not be used to delay getting help from a dentist.

A tooth abscess should disappear within a few days of treatment. Even if it seems to be running low, it is important to consult a dentist to make sure that the infection does not spread to another area.

You can reduce the risk of tooth abscess by practicing good oral hygiene and regularly checking your teeth every six months.



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