Dental Abscesses: Understanding the Symptoms and Treatments

April 30, 2024

Are you experiencing pain or swelling around one of your teeth? You may be dealing with a dental abscess. At Howard County Family Dentistry, our dedicated staff is here to help you understand what a dental abscess is, how it can affect your oral health, and the treatments available to alleviate your discomfort.

What is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is a collection of pus that forms at the base of a tooth or adjacent to it in the area between the tooth and gums. This occurs when bacteria invade the inner tissues of your tooth or periodontal tissues, leading to infection and inflammation.

Types of Dental Abscesses

There are two main types of dental abscesses: periapical abscesses and periodontal abscesses. A periapical abscess forms at the end of your tooth’s root, often due to an untreated cavity, recurrent decay, or injury that affects your tooth’s inner vital tissues. In contrast, a periodontal abscess occurs alongside the tooth and is typically caused by the accumulation of dental plaque and food debris between the teeth and gums.

Signs & Symptoms

If you notice a gum bubble in the area below the base of your tooth’s root or between your teeth, and experience one or more of the following symptoms, contact our office for care:

  • Persistent, severe, throbbing toothache and pain that radiates to the jawbone and neck
  • Sensitivity to hot
  • Sensitivity to touch or biting pressure
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Tender, palpable, inflamed lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • A palpable bubble-like lesion between the teeth or below the teeth
  • Foul smell or taste

Treatment Options for Dental Abscesses

The key to protecting your health is getting prompt attention and care. When left untreated, a dental infection can quickly become more serious and have severe consequences. In most cases, root canal treatment with antibiotic therapy will address the source of your periapical abscess, prevent further infection, and preserve your tooth. However, you may require getting the tooth extracted in cases of extensive structural damage, supporting bone loss, and other considerations.

For periodontal abscesses, treatment often involves deep cleaning procedures to remove bacteria and debris from the pockets between your teeth and gums. In some cases, a small incision may be made to drain the abscess, followed by antibiotics to help clear up any remaining infection.

Preventing Dental Abscesses

To minimize your risk of developing a dental abscess, it's essential to practice good oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and scheduling regular checkups and cleanings at our office. Additionally, avoiding sugary foods and beverages can help reduce the risk of cavities and other dental issues that may lead to abscesses.


Dental abscesses can be painful and potentially dangerous if left untreated. If you suspect you have an abscess, don't hesitate to contact our office for a consultation and treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Our experienced staff is committed to helping you maintain optimal oral health and overall well-being.

About Us

Our goal is to help every patient experience the benefits of good oral health and a beautiful smile. We value the trust you have placed in our office and strive to provide solutions that meet your dental needs and expectations of care.



Existing Patients: (410) 489-7565
New Patients: (410) 680-2225