How to treat a tooth abscess

Knowing how to treat a tooth abscess is certainly important for your oral health to relieve your pain and avoid serious infection or even sepsis.  There are steps in this situation like draining the abscess, performing a root canal, pulling the affected tooth, and taking antibiotics that are common treatments.

Only your dentist will know for sure how to treat a tooth abscess.  Therefore it is vital to your oral health that you make an appointment to have a full dental exam and treatment.

If you have a medical emergency call 911 - for urgent dental situations like an abscess contact a 24 Hour Dentist near you.  Or even a Walk in Dentist Near You, pediatric dentist, sedation dentist, or Sunday Dentist Near You.  For treatment of an abscess you may also contact an Endodontist Near You or an Oral Surgeon Near You.

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a sac full of pus and bacteria caused by an infection in your tooth.  The bacteria enters the tooth through a deep cavity or a deep crack in the tooth.

Inside your tooth is actually soft tissue and nerves.  An infection in this area is painful and dangerous to your health.

The infection causing the abscess will get worse if you don’t see a dental professional.  You may need the help of a general dentist or endodontist to fix your abscess and regain your health.

If you wait and don’t seek treatment the infection can spread to your jaw, neck, and head.  We repeat because it is important to your health and well being, your dentist will know how to treat a tooth abscess.

How to treat a tooth abscess


The first step for how to treat a tooth abscess is for your dentist to make an incision in the sac to cut open the abscess and drain out the pus.  Then your dentist will wash out the abscess with salt water (saline).  Depending on the particulars of your abscess, a small rubber drain may be used to allow the excess fluid to drain out of the tooth.

Perform root canal

The second step in how to treat a tooth abscess is to perform a root canalYour dentist will drill into the tooth, drain the abscess, and remove infected pulp and pus.  Then your dentist will fill in the pulp chamber and seal it.

A crown may be needed to protect the tooth.  It can be put in place in a following appointment.  Indeed if you properly care for a tooth protected by a crown it is possible for it to last for a lifetime.

Pull the affected tooth

Different circumstances will change how to treat a tooth abscess.  In some cases the tooth can't be saved.  Your dentist will need to pull (extract) the affected tooth and remove the infection by draining the abscess.

Prior to extraction, you will receive a local anesthetic, which will numb your tooth and mouth so you will feel pressure during the extraction, but not pain.  The instrument to loosen the tooth is called an elevator and the one to remove it are forceps.

While anxiety is natural before having a tooth pulled, remember it is necessary for your oral health and is the only way to stop the pain.


Antibiotics play a part in how to treat a tooth abscess.  They are often prescribed for 7 to 10 days as part of your treatment to get rid of the infection.  There are accordingly a few antibiotics your dentist has available.  Which one is best for your abscess will depend on your personal health history and dental exam.

These are some of the common antibiotics used for a tooth infection:
-Amoxicillin.  Usually the first line of defense for abscess.
-Clindamycin.  May be used if bacteria is resistant to Amoxicillin.
-Metronidazole.  Often used together with another antibiotic.

How to treat tooth abscess pain home remedy

An abscessed tooth will get worse while you wait for treatment and only a dentist can fix it.  With this in mind, make an appointment with a dentist as soon as you start to feel pain, the moment you have a toothache.

Waiting will only make you suffer more, and could force more involved treatment if the infection spreads.  Make your dentist appointment immediately.

While you are waiting for your dentist appointment, your dentist may recommend some things to reduce the pain.

-Avoid hot or cold beverages or foods
-Avoid foods high in sugar or that are very acidic
-Use an over the counter pain reliever
-Floss between the teeth that are painful
-Use over the counter filling material to seal a hole temporarily
-Elevate your head while you sleep
-Warm salt water rinses

How to treat tooth abscess pain