This page will look at the methods of tooth abscess treatment and things you can do at home to help.
The first thing you need to do if you think you have a dental infection (see signs and symptoms to look for on the previous page, ‘dental abscess‘), is make an appointment to see your dentist. Never ignore the problem!
What Your Dentist Can Do To Help
When you attend the dentist, they will carry out an assessment to properly diagnose the problem, and find the source of the infection. X-rays are often helpful in this regard.
The first stage of treating a tooth abscess is to drain the pus. How this is done will depend on the cause of the infection. Draining the pus is achieved by one or more of the following:
- Lancing the area to let pus drain out through the gum.
- Opening up the tooth to let pus drain out of the root canal(s).
- Extracting the tooth if it cannot be saved.
- Cleaning and draining the gum.
Antibiotic treatment, may also be prescribed to help the body clear up the infection. Antibiotic choice for tooth infections include penicillin, metronidazole or clindamycin (read more on the options here). Once the pus begins to drain, the symptoms should quickly begin to clear up.
Severe abscesses may spread quickly and are potentially very dangerous. One may need admittance to hospital in such cases.
Further treatment will always be necessary even after the initial infection has settled. This is because the original cause, such as an infected pulp or deep periodontal pocket, will still be present and the problem will recur.
Again the final treatment will depend on the which of the different types of abscess is present; but will likely be one of:
- Root canal therapy. Here the infection (‘periapical abscess’) inside the tooth is cleaned away and the space is filled with a material, to prevent infection from recurring.
- Extraction, if the tooth is beyond repair.
- Periodontal treatment, in the case of severe gum disease.
Tooth Abscess Home Treatment
Four Things You Can Do At Home to Help:
1. Taking warm, salt mouth-rinses several times a day will help with drainage. One of the oldest but most useful home remedies.
2. Also, to help recovery, take plenty of fluids and ensure you take a lot of rest.
3. Painkillers: Any one of a variety of over-the counter analgesic medications can be useful. These include:
- Paracetamol with codeine.
Ibuprofen is best for many for toothache relief as it both relieves pain and reduces inflammation. However only take any medicine for toothache relief if you know it is suitable for you. For example, ibuprofen is not suitable if you have stomach ulcers or are asthmatic. Aspirin is not suitable if you have any bleeding disorders.
If in doubt, always get advice from your doctor/dentist and/or pharmacist on which painkillers you can take. Always stick to the recommended dose of any medication. Never leave an aspirin tablet resting beside the abscess! This will not help cure the pain, and may burn your gums as aspirin is acidic!
4. Applying hot or cold compresses can be a useful home remedy, giving some relief. For example, use an ice pack or a hot-water bottle against the cheek.
So, the first steps in treatment of an abscess involve draining the pus and possibly use of antibiotics. Once the infection has settled down, further work is needed to eliminate the source and prevent recurrence. Always attend the dentist both for initial treatment and any necessary follow-up visits!
Return to main page on abscesses, for more info on causes and symptoms of the problem.
Periodontal abscess treatment click here.