Tooth Abscess Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors

ID-1006824Tooth abscess is collection of pus in the inner part of tooth, usually due to bacterial infection.

What are the causes of tooth abscess?

Commonly tooth abscess occurs from crack or chip in the tooth or from an untreated tooth cavity, which allow entry of bacteria into inner tooth and start an abscess there. Bacteria gain entry into the pulp (the soft innermost part of tooth, which have rich blood supply, nerves and connective tissue) and form abscess. Once bacteria gain entry into pulp it induces an inflammatory response and when white cells attack the bacteria puss forms. Due to lack of space in the inner part of tooth, the pus is forced into a pocket and forms an abscess at the tip of root, which is called tooth abscess.

What are the signs and symptoms of tooth abscess?

Signs and symptoms of tooth abscess are:

  • Severe toothache in the affected tooth area, which is persistent and throbbing in nature.
  • Sensitivity of the affected tooth to cold and hot.
  • Affected tooth is sensitive to pressure of chewing and biting
  • Fever
  • Swelling in face and/or cheek
  • There may be inflammation (swelling and tenderness) of lymph nodes of jaw or neck.
  • There may be bad odor in mouth.

What are the risk factors of tooth abscess?

One of the common causes of tooth abscess is dental cavities and any factor that increases risk of cavity is risk factor for tooth abscess too. Risk factors of tooth abscess are:

  • Poor oral hygiene: inadequate dental/oral care is a risk factor for tooth abscess. Brush after every meal (preferably after eating anything), regular use of dental floss etc. are important for good oral/dental hygiene.
  • Diet with high sugar: foods rich in sugar such as soda, sweet etc. can increase risk of dental cavities and tooth abscess.
  • Other medical conditions: various medical conditions can increase risk of tooth abscess, such as diabetes, and other diseases that reduce your body immunity can increase risk of tooth abscess.

When to see a doctor if you have tooth abscess?

You should see a doctor (dentist) at the earliest signs and symptoms (such as fever and swelling in your face, sensitivity to chewing, biting or hot and cold) of tooth abscess.

Image courtesy of Graeme Weatherston /

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  • San Rafael Chiropractor March 13, 2013 01.14 am

    Great article. As a believer in the paleo diet, it is important to emphasize that eating fewer carbs (not only sugars, but also breads and pastas) is beneficial for healthy teeth.

  • Donald Berg March 15, 2013 05.32 am

    Thank you for sharing this post. It is very informative. It is our own responsibility to take good care of our body to have a good health, and of course we cannot achieve our goals if we do nothing, we should take our part, if change is necessary, we should do it if it could bring better for us. Many of us has a poor oral hygiene and it is one main reason of oral problem especially teeth loss. visiting a dentist regularly is one of the best thing we should do.


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