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Home » Dental Abscess: 20 Questions Answered

Dental Abscess: 20 Questions Answered

Dental abscess flies around as a term in the dental world. But there are not many people who know what it is about. Hence, this article will answer the 20 most frequently asked tooth abscess questions.

What’s an abscessed tooth?

An abscessed tooth is a tooth with a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. This infection forms around the root of a tooth and usually looks swollen. These situations often occur when there’s a lack of treatment for cavities, injuries to the tooth, or mistakes in the prior dental treatment.

Usually, an abscessed tooth is diagnosed after an x-ray. It can also occur in any area of the mouth. If the condition is left untreated, it can be life-threatening at its worst.

Can you have a dental abscess without pain?

Under normal circumstances, a tooth abscess should be painful. However, it is possible to have a tooth abscess without feeling any form of pain. This occurs when the infection has killed the nerve inside the tooth.

Besides, the pain will decrease significantly when there’s a ruptured abscess.

Dental abscess becomes more difficult to treat after the infection has killed nerves around the tooth. Also, it can become fatal and have extreme consequences as the bacteria spread quickly without your notice. So, treat the pain as soon as you feel it.

Can a tooth abscess burst on its own?

A tooth abscess can burst on its own. When it does, your mouth may become extremely painful, and you may have a salty fluid in your mouth.

Use warm water to rinse your mouth and encourage the drainage of the pus. Then, go for medical treatments. In the absence of proper medical care, the infection may spread to other areas of the mouth and complicate your situation.

Can dental abscesses cause ear pain?

Yes, it is possible. The decayed tooth can cause inflammation and pain throughout the area. It can even cause jaw pain and pimples on the jaw.

In some extreme cases, you may suffer from severe loss of appetite, sleeping difficulties, and lack of balance, not to mention hearing loss. It is wise to understand that not all earaches are created by wax buildup.

Some are the results of your tooth infection, and you need to see a dentist.

Are abscessed teeth painful?

An abscessed tooth can cause mild to severe pain that can spread to your neck or ear. If left untreated, it can become a life-threatening condition with serious complications. Depending on the degree of the abscess, the pain develops as the abscess worsens.

You will feel a persistent sharp and throbbing pain. A decayed tooth also makes the mouth very sensitive to food and drinks. Chewing becomes difficult too.

Is draining an abscess with a needle safe?

Unless you are a dental hygienist, you are not qualified to treat abscesses with any instrument. Attempting to drain the abscess with a needle can cause more harm than good.

By puncturing the abscess with a needle, you may injure yourself. Also, you could puncture an underlying blood vessel which may cause severe pain or develop another tooth complication.

Further, using a needle to drain an abscess can even infect your teeth since the needle is not sterilized. Also, if it punctures your gum, it can aid the infection to spreading faster.

How do you know if you have an abscess after wisdom teeth removal?

After an extraction procedure of a wisdom tooth, it could be possible that you have been infected. It is uncommon to have a bit of food debris stuck under the gums and develop into a small abscess. You may not notice it until a few weeks after the procedure.

So, you can look out for the following symptoms to know if you have an abscess after the procedure:

  • Fever due to tooth pain
  • Persistent swelling of the gum
  • Bad or sour taste
  • Redness

Reach out to your dentist as soon as you notice these symptoms.

Can tooth abscesses cause ear infections?

There is no well-documented supporting evidence to say if a tooth infection can spread to the ear. If you have an ear infection while nursing an abscess, it is due to other things. An abscess will only cause throbbing pains in your ear.

Can tooth abscess cause eye swelling?

It can. When a tooth abscess is left untreated for a long time, it becomes extreme and spreads pain across the face. It can cause pain around the ears, nose, and eyes. It can also cause your eyes, nose, and jaw to be swollen.

This condition is serious as it can lead the eyes to close under the effect of the swelling.

Can you have a tooth abscess without pain?

Yes. But it will usually have mild pains before the pain stops altogether. The infection could have killed the tooth nerves and tissues in this situation. Once this happens, you won’t feel any pain from the abscess, and it will keep spreading through your teeth without raising the alarm.

Can a tooth abscess cause a sore throat?

Yes, it can and definitely will. This is one of the significant symptoms to look out for too. An abscessed tooth will cause significant pain, spreading the bacteria throughout your mouth and throat. This will cause a sore throat alongside the pain across your mouth. Your tongue may also be painful during this time.

Should you pop your tooth abscess?

You should never attempt to pop a tooth abscess by yourself. Trying to do so will cause you more pain than you might be feeling.

Also, you will most likely use a piece of unsterilized equipment for popping it and, as such, cause more infection. Also, you can open more spaces for infection and bacteria to creep in. Though there are ways you can drain abscesses naturally but popping it is not an option.

Can tooth abscess cause face swelling?

Yes, it can. A tooth abscess can cause your face to swell up if left untreated. As the abscess grows, it may eventually spread to other parts of your mouth and face. In the same way, it will affect your eyes, nose, and jaw.

Can dental abscesses cause headaches?

A dental abscess can cause headaches. There are primary symptoms and secondary symptoms of tooth abscess. The primary symptoms include toothaches, tenderness, redness, swelling, and facial pains.

The secondary symptoms are more extreme and indicate the degree of the abscess. If left untreated for a long time and there is discomfort in the mouth, it can lead to a headache. The throbbing pain can extend to become a headache and, in some cases, a migraine.

Can an abscessed tooth cause a sinus infection?

A tooth abscess can cause a sinus infection. It is caused by bacterial infection, and infections trigger the sinus. It is more likely for an abscessed tooth in the upper region of the teeth to cause this.

The abscessed tooth may cause bone decay, quickly spreading the infection to the sinuses. Also, the sinus may get poked and infected.

Avoiding all these is simply down to noticing and treating the abscess early.

How to Manage A Wisdom Tooth Abscess?

When you develop an infection on a wisdom tooth, it is best to take antibiotics to clear it up. This is important to help curb the spread and possibly heal it before the removal. Properly finishing the dosage of antibiotics may help heal the abscess.

After this, the wisdom tooth removal procedure can start.

Can tooth abscesses cause fever?

Yes! A tooth abscess may cause fever. Among other symptoms of an abscess, fever is predominant. When you feel discomfort in your body for a prolonged period, it can lead to fever. Hence, with consistent throbbing pains soaring through your face, an abscess can always cause fever if left untreated.

What is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic that fights bacterial infections in the body.

It is used to treat different body infections ranging from acne to periodontitis and others.

It is one of the most recommended medications for treating tooth abscesses. It is sold as a generic medicine.

When getting over-the-counter drugs, Monodox, Avidoxy, and Vibramycin are some brand names that sell Doxycycline.

Can you take Ibuprofen if you have a painful tooth abscess?

According to the UK’s NHS (National Health Service), Ibuprofen is ‘the preferred painkiller’ for tooth infections. However, you may not be able to take it if you are pregnant or allergic to it. In that case, you can take paracetamol.

Can a root canal cause tooth abscess?

A root canal left untreated for a long time can develop into a dental abscess. Root canals form due to an infected pulp in the tooth. You should consider having the tooth checked for abscess if you experience pain, swelling, fever, or redness after a root canal. It may happen that your root canal has failed.

Read our blog on pain after root canals to learn more about root canals.

A tooth abscess has popped in my mouth. What can I do now?

After an abscess has popped in your mouth, the pain may reduce drastically. However, that is not enough to forgo treatment.

If the abscess does not drain properly, it can spread through your mouth, jaw, and other areas. You can consider taking these steps before visiting your dentist:

  • Rinse your mouth with salt water for temporary relief.
  • Baking soda rinse can also help relieve you.
  • Place an ice pack on the swollen area.
  • Apply a garlic paste on the infected area to curb bacteria spread.

All these are temporary solutions. When a tooth abscess pops in your mouth, head to your dentist immediately.


  • Wikipedia. ‘Doxycycline.’
  • NHS. ‘Dental abscess.’
  • New York Times. ‘Tooth Abscess.’

Also Read:

Tooth Abscess: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention