Tooth Abscess

Dental Inlays

Abscesses are well localised infections that originate from bacteria entrapped in the root canals. The infection usually spreads along the root canal until they reach the bone around the tip of the root. When the nerve in the root is dead and pus forms in the bony area around the tip of the root it is called an abscess. Abscesses may become enlarged and start draining. Sometimes they can spread widely and rarely, may become life-threatening. An infection that causes a wide-spread swelling of the face is called cellulitis (not the the kind of cellulitis gossip magazines talk about)

Abscesses may result from deep cavities or trauma to the tooth, such as when a tooth is broken or chipped. Openings in the tooth allow bacteria to penetrate and infect the pulp. Infection results in a collection of pus (dead tissue, live and dead bacteria, white blood cells) and swelling of the tissues within the tooth. Infection may spread out from the root of the tooth and to the bones supporting the tooth.

What are the symptoms?

  • The symptoms may vary from a dull discomfort to agonising pain so pain alone is not solely descriptive of an abscess but normally the following symptoms may be present
  • Pain when chewing
  • Toothache
  • Sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling ยท Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw

Possible Complications

  • Loss of the tooth
  • Spread of infection to soft tissue
  • Spread of infection to the jaw bone
  • Spread of infection to other areas of the body resulting in brain abscess, pneumonia, etc


  • Over-the-counter pain killers may relieve the toothache and fever
  • Root canal therapy may be recommended in an attempt to preserve the tooth and a crown may be placed over the tooth
  • Surgical drainage of the abscess or extraction of the affected tooth may be necessary

Call us here at your local Ipswich dental practice if the pain or other symptoms of a tooth abscess occurs.