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What Are Abscessed Teeth?

If you’ve ever woken up to a swollen jaw and persistent pain, you know the calamity that is abscessed teeth.

Characterized by severe achiness, sensitivity, and swelling, an abscessed tooth is not something to be taken lightly.

What Are Abscessed Teeth – The Two Types

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus around the tooth caused by a bacterial infection. There are two types of tooth abscess: periapical and periodontal. A periapical abscess is the most disruptive as it forms at the tip of the root, deep in the gums. A periodontal abscess is also located in the gums but is along the side of the tooth.

Causes of Abscessed Teeth

When you have a cracked tooth, a cavity that is left untreated, or an old filling that needs replaced, bacteria can get inside the tooth. If it’s not cleaned out and removed properly, it can penetrate deep into the roots and invade the dental pulp (the blood vessels, tissue, and nerves furthers inside the tooth). This bacteria causes an infection that then leads to swelling, pain, and abscessed teeth.


  • Severe pain and throbbing toothache that can radiate to jaw, neck, and ear
  • Swelling in the face, jaw, or neck, sometimes extreme
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to biting down or pressure on the tooth
  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • If the abscess ruptures, you may experience a sudden rush of foul-tasting and odorous fluid in your mouth

An abscessed tooth is a serious medical condition and should be treated promptly by a professional. If you experience any of these symptoms, particularly severe swelling that makes it difficult to breath and swallow, you should go to an emergency room right away. When not treated immediately, abscessed teeth can lead to the infection spreading deeper into your jaw and neck, and even throughout other parts of your body.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment depends on the severity of the infection. Your dentist, endodontist, or oral surgeon may treat an abscess with antibiotics, drainage, cleaning, and a root canal. In more serious situations, your tooth may need to be pulled altogether.

The best options for preventing abscess are simple oral health care routines. Take care of your teeth and mouth by drinking fluoridated water, brushing your teeth regularly with fluoride-containing toothpaste, and flossing between your teeth daily. Additionally, you should replace your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, whenever the bristles start to fray.

Eating fresh, healthy foods and limiting sugar can also help maintain oral health, as can regular cleanings and checkups with your dentist. As an added layer of protection, consider using an antiseptic mouth rinse to help rinse away food particles and bacteria from hard-to-reach areas.

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah Can Help

If you are experiencing symptoms of this condition, don’t live with pain any longer. Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah can help. From treating abscessed teeth to placing dental implants, our highly-skilled team does it all. We have offices in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan, and Tooele, Utah. Contact us today!


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