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A tooth abscess is a cavity of pus resulting from a bacterial infection. These abscesses can occur anywhere around the tooth for various reasons and can also affect the surrounding bone or adjacent teeth. It’s essential to have this treated by a local dentist in Ypsilanti right away to prevent it from worsening.

Three types of tooth infections can lead to abscesses. These are gingival, or an infection developing in the gums; periapical, which forms at the tip of the root; and periodontal, where the disease starts in bone and tissues supporting the tooth. Here’s what you need to know about tooth abscesses and how to treat them:

What Leads to a Tooth Infection?

A few habits or factors increase your risk of a tooth infection. Smokers are twice as likely to get tooth infections as nonsmokers. Having a dry mouth leads to more bacteria, as they proliferate in an environment with low saliva. Poor dental hygiene also allows bacteria to stay in your mouth, which is why regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings protect your mouth from tooth infections. A weakened immune system also makes it more difficult to fight off bacteria.

When left untreated, tooth infections can spread to the areas surrounding the tooth. These include the jawbone and the soft tissues of the face and neck. In worst-case scenarios, the infection can even reach the heart, resulting in endocarditis, and the brain, leading to bacterial meningitis.

What Results in a Tooth Abscess?

There are a few things that lead to a tooth abscess. Severe tooth decay creates an opening in your teeth for bacteria to infiltrate, as your tooth’s hard surfaces have weakened. Damaged teeth with chips or cracks also allow bacteria to slip through and penetrate the pulp. Gum disease allows bacteria to gain access to deeper layers, resulting in a painful abscess. Trauma to the tooth can also hurt your inner pulp despite the lack of a visible crack, giving another opportunity for bacteria to enter and infect it.

What are the Symptoms of a Tooth Infection?

Pain and discomfort in your tooth indicate a tooth infection. The pain may be gnawing or throbbing, sharp or shooting, continuous or occurring only when chewing, or radiating to your jawbone, neck, or ear. You’ll also experience other symptoms like tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, bad breath, a bitter taste in your mouth, loose teeth, a swollen upper or lower jaw, and gum redness and swelling.

How Do You Treat an Abscessed Tooth?

Tooth infections do not resolve themselves, requiring professional treatment from a dentist. Even if the infection stops hurting, it’s important to see a dentist anyway, as the pain may stop due to the nerve dying. Still, the bacteria will continue spreading and destroying the surrounding tissue unless you undergo specialized procedures to eliminate it.

There are many treatment options for an abscessed tooth. Incision and drainage, where your dentist makes a small cut in the abscess to drain the pus. They can also perform a root canal, which treats the infection and saves your tooth. Dentists resort to tooth extraction if they cannot save your teeth, and they must drain your socket of the pus. Antibiotics can also help your immune system fight the remaining bacteria, improving your chances of recovery.


A tooth abscess can be incredibly painful, but they’re easy to prevent by brushing your teeth regularly and properly, flossing, and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings. By using our guide, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing a tooth abscess and work towards maintaining your oral health.

Dental House is an affordable dentistry practice offering a broad range of services, such as preventive dentistry, dentures, oral surgery, dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and more. Contact us today to book an appointment for your next dental cleaning!

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Ann Arbor Dentist Office
Hours : Mon to Thur 9am - 6pm, Fri & Sat 9am - 3pm
Address : 4860 Washtenaw Ave D, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Waterford Dentist Office
Hours : Mon to Fri 9am - 6pm, Sat 9am - 3pm
Address : 5979 Highland Rd, Waterford Twp, MI 48327
West Bloomfield Dentist Office
Hours : Monday, Wednesday to Friday 9am - 6pm
Address : 6595 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield, MI 48322
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