Tooth Abscess: How Bad Can They Get?

Charlotte Miller

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Have you ever had a dental abscess? What symptoms did you develop? Essentially, a tooth abscess can be an excruciating teeth problem. However, your odds of getting to deal with the infection, the extreme pain and the inconveniences of a paining tooth increase if you don’t observe proper oral care. Want to learn about tooth abscesses and how bad they can get? Keep reading.

Development of Tooth Abscesses

A tooth abscess– also referred to as a tooth abscess or oral abscess – is an infection that leads to the development of a pus pocket. Typically, this infection is caused by bacterial and can develop in various parts of a tooth. Usually, depending on the extent of the infection and the type of abscess, the pain can be moderate or severe. There are three common types of abscesses.

  • Periapical abscesses that form on the tip of your tooth’s root
  • Periodontal abscess. Forms on the gum next to your tooth’s root. This type of abscess is known to spread to other tissues and bones in the surrounding areas.
  • Gingival abscess. It occurs on the gums.

We can categorize these abscesses as either those related to the tooth – also called periapical – or those related to the gum – referred to as periodontal. In most cases, periodontal abscesses develop from debris and food material caught between the gum and the tooth. When an infection develops and spreads to the bone under the gum, the periodontal abscess becomes a severe case.

However, your odds of getting to deal with the infection, the extreme pain and the inconveniences of a paining tooth increase if you don’t observe proper oral care such as using a teeth grinding guard.

Periapical abscesses, on the other hand, tend to occur inside your tooth. Typically, the infection develops if you’re the nerve of your tooth is dying or dead. When this infection spreads to the bones surrounding the root tip, the abscess becomes very severe.

Normally, a tooth abscess will not go away on its own. You will need to seek medical treatment and care since the infection can last for months and even years.

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Mild Symptoms of Tooth Abscesses

How to tell when you are dealing with a tooth abscess? The pain associated with a tooth abscess is unique. Normally, you will experience continuous and severe pain that comes from the infected area. The primary symptoms of a tooth abscess include:

  • Foul breath
  • Tenderness in gums
  • Fever
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Pain when eating or chewing
  • Swelling and redness of the gums
  • Bad or bitter taste in your mouth
  • Increased sensitivity of the tooth to hot or cold temperatures
  • Uneasiness and general discomfort
  • A sore that opens up and drains on the side of your gum
  • Swollen areas on your lower or upper jaws

Normally, if you find that the pain goes away on its own, it is probable that the infection has destroyed the tooth pulp. Therefore, you should seek immediate medical attention since the infection could still spread to the bones. You should seek dental help for safety purposes as soon as you develop any of the above-listed symptoms.

Severe Symptoms of Untreated Tooth Abscesses

The following are some very severe problems that you can develop from a tooth abscess that is not taken care of.

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Without the proper care and long duration of infection, a tooth abscess can develop and infect the surrounding areas leading to more damage and bone destruction. When the bone and teeth are damaged, a sinus tract – also known as a fistula – might develop. A fistula is hollow that develops through the skin or bone. If you develop this problem, you will develop pimples that allow the pus to drain in your mouth. Essentially, this will give you a terrible taste. Typically, the pain that comes from a tooth abscess results from pressure buildup on the infected site. With a fistula, this pressure gets relieved. Consequently, this might reduce the pain and pressure on the infected area. However, since the infection is still there, it continues to grow, leading to more damage to both your gum and jaw bone.

Development of Cysts

Long periods of untreated tooth abscess can cause widespread infection and consequently lead to cysts. Essentially, a cyst is a bubble that contains fluids. With tooth abscesses, the cyst develops in the jaw bone. Normally, a cyst develops when you have your severely damaged tooth removed. However, you might also develop a cyst if an infection severely damages the tooth’s root from a tooth abscess. If you need to save your tooth and have an abscess that can cause a cyst, you should seek root canal services to save the nerve in the infected area. With severe cases of cysts caused by a tooth abscess, you might need surgery for the removal of the bubble.


Normally, our response to any disease is defined by how it affects our normal functioning. For instance, you might develop an abscess and not seek treatment if the pain subsides on its own. Though this is true for other conditions, a tooth abscess can be deceiving. Normally, an abscess might drain on its own, leading to pain relief. If you don’t seek medical attention, the infection in the abscess might continue to grow and develop.

This can consequently cause the spreading of the infection to other areas in your mouth and the body. Typically, when the infection grows and spreads to your neck, chest and other parts of the body, you might develop fatal complications that arise from a condition called sepsis. Sepsis is a severe and life-threatening condition that develops when your body tries to fight infection but gets its tissues damaged in the process.

Tooth Loss

Before you can experience an abscess, you can experience the following:

  • Enamel decay that leads to sensitivity
  • Decay of the dentin and holes in the tooth if the enamel decay is not treated.
  • Decay of the pulp in your tooth leading to very severe pain

By the time the abscess is forming, your tooth might be significantly damaged to be salvaged. This will lead to tooth loss or breakage that leaves a stump behind.


Tooth abscesses can be very painful and inconvenient. In most severe cases, you can develop life-threatening complications if the infection in the abscess spreads through the blood to other parts of your body. Therefore, it is advisable to seek treatment before things get out of hand. In addition, you can observe good oral care to ensure that you never have to deal with a tooth abscess. If you’re concerned with your holistic wellness, consider adding an infrared heating pad to your routine.