A tooth abscess is a sac of infected material called pus in a tooth or the gums.
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A tooth abscess is caused by bacteria. It begins when bacteria invade and infect the tissue around a tooth. This results in pus build-up. When the pus is unable to drain, an abscess results.
Conditions that allow bacteria to invade a tooth include:
Factors that may increase your chance of a tooth abscess include:
A tooth abscess may cause:
If left untreated, complications of tooth abscess include:
Your dentist will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A detailed exam of your teeth and gums will be done.
Images may need to be taken of the tooth and surrounding bone. This can be done with x-rays.
A sample of the abscess fluid may be taken and tested.
To help reduce your chance a tooth abscess:
Academy of General Dentistry
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Abscess (toothache). Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/a/abscess. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Acute apical dental abscess. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T435303/Acute-apical-dental-abscess. Updated June 15, 20175. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Dental abscess. NHSinform website. Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mouth/dental-abscess. Updated April 13, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Toothache and Infection. The Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental-disorders/symptoms-of-dental-and-oral-disorders/toothache-and-infection. Updated September 2016. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 9/30/2013