What Is Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is nothing less than a bag of pus caused by a bacterial infection and which can appear in different regions of the tooth. It is called a periapical abscess  when it occurs at the root end or periodontal when it occurs in the gums, next to the root of the tooth.

The abscess can also be considered depending on the intensity and duration of the symptoms, as acute or chronic . It is that, although the causes may be the same, the organism’s reaction and the level of aggression may be different.

In the acute abscess the aggression is more violent and the body’s defenses react in a more intense way, whereas in the chronic abscess the aggression may be less intense and / or the body’s reaction may be slower. In terms of consequences, they are both the same.

However, a chronic abscess can develop for months or even years and is usually symptomless . Therefore, it is often diagnosed when an x-ray is taken for any other reason. There, it is possible to check the possible existence of a granuloma, or there may even be a cyst.


The formation of abscesses can have two main causes: cavities or the aggression of tissues near the teeth.

In a caries there is an aggression of the living part of the tooth (called pulp), where there is also an artery, a vein and a nerve. Thus, a cavity causes infection of the pulp and will then lead to the formation of the abscess, because the pulp is connected to the outside of the tooth through that artery, vein and nerve.

The second cause may stem from dental treatment. When a patient is going to devitalize a tooth, that is, remove the pulp and all the living tissue from the tooth, chemicals are placed to close that “hole”. These products can cause tissue damage. In any case, cavities constitute the vast majority of the causes of abscesses.


  • Intense, persistent and throbbing toothache;
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures;
  • Sensitivity to pressure made by chewing or biting;
  • Fever;
  • Swelling in the face or cheek;
  • Sensitivity and swelling of the lymph nodes in the lower jaw or neck;
  • Sudden influx of smelly, unpleasant liquid in the mouth and relief from pain if the abscess breaks.


Currently, the treatment of abscesses is based on antibiotics and pus drainage at the site. The state of the abscess is a determining factor in the choice of treatment.

The lack of treatment for abscesses can lead to more serious complications and, in rare situations, they also cause systemic manifestations, that is, manifestations beyond the zone, which can be cardiac and reach the point of a septicemia, registering a dissemination of those microbes through the lymphatic and arterial systems. These situations, although rare, are serious and can lead to the patient’s death.

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