A dental infection can be caused by an abscessed tooth.  An abscess is a pool of pus caused by a bacterial infection.  They can occur due to untreated decay, injury to the tooth or previous dental work. When bacteria infect the dental pulp which is the inner area of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves, an abscess will form.  Bacteria can also enter through a cavity, chip or crack in the tooth.  Once this happens, it can spread to the root of the tooth. The infection caused by the bacteria usually causes swelling and inflammation at the tip of the root.

Your dentist will treat it by draining the buildup and ridding the infection. Sometimes root canal treatment is required to save the tooth. In other cases, it may not be possible to save the tooth and an extraction will be needed.  An untreated abscess can lead to serious and in some cases, life-threatening situations.


  • Persistent and throbbing toothache
  • Pressure from chewing or biting causes sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold things
  • Swelling of the face or cheek
  • Fever
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes near your jaw or neck
  • Strong smelling and tasting of fluid in your mouth

Risk Factors

  • Inadequate oral hygiene. Improper care of teeth and gums can increase the risk of decay, gum disease, abscess, and other complications.  Remember to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once daily.
  • High sugar diet. Eating & drinking foods that are rich in sugar, can contribute to causing cavities which may turn into an abscess.

Seek Treatment

Visit your dentist right away if you have the above symptoms. If you are having trouble with breathing or swallowing, you should visit the emergency room.  Not being able to breathe or swallow properly can be symptoms that the infection has spread deeper into other areas of the body.

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