Preventing Dental Abscesses

  • Jan 26 2018

What causes a tooth to become abscessed and are there ways to prevent it?

Not all that long ago, a dental exam meant sitting in a fairly scary-looking chair, under an intensely bright light, while the dentist decided what painful procedure he was going to do first. Everyone can agree that there is nothing to miss about those days! Today, going to the dentist is like stepping into the future where state-of-the-art technology and innovation have come together to create a calm and nearly pain-free experience that produces amazing results.

The one thing that has not changed is the basic goal. From the hygienist who performs your professional teeth cleanings to the oral surgeon who tackles a wide range of functional and disease-related issues, all dental care professionals share the mission of providing the best oral healthcare for their patients. This is especially true when it comes to preventing infections, including those leading to tooth abscesses.

Taking proper care of your oral health affects more than your smile: it has a significant role in maintaining your overall health. Even the cleanest mouth is teeming with bacteria on a daily basis. Fortunately, most are harmless and are kept under control by the body’s natural defense systems and regular brushing and flossing. Without consistent and proper oral hygiene, however, bacteria levels can elevate to the point that infection sets in and spreads inside the soft tissue of the tooth or gums. This can eventually lead to an abscess.

A dental abscess is a buildup of pus that forms inside the teeth or gums as the result of infection. When the abscess occurs at the tip of the root of the tooth, it is called a periapical abscess. A periodontal abscess is found in the gums next to a tooth root.

Symptoms of Dental Abscess

The main symptom of an abscess is pain, which may be throbbing and is often intense. Some specific signs to look for include:

  • Ongoing, often severe, throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Difficulty chewing due to pressure sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Swelling in the face or cheek
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes
  • Bad smell and taste in the mouth

An abscess will not go away or get better on its own. Treatment from a dentist or endodontist will be necessary to stop the spread of infection to the neck, head or other parts of the body, as well as save the tooth.


If you have ever experienced the pain of an abscessed tooth, you know that preventing one from ever happening again is absolutely worth the effort. The good news is that it really isn’t hard. Some simple steps, taken consistently, can make a huge difference with it comes to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and reducing the possibility of infection. These include:

  • Visit the dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings
  • Brush teeth at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily or use an interdental cleaner to clean hard-to-reach spots between teeth and gums
  • Make a dentist appointment as soon as possible if you have a loose or cracked tooth
  • Limit sugary items and between-meal snacks to prevent cavities
  • Replace toothbrush regularly
  • Consider using an antiseptic or a fluoride mouth rinse

Dental abscesses can also be caused by an injury, such as a blow to a tooth or excessive grinding, and dental procedures, like a crown or a filling incorrectly placed or a root canal not completely sealed. That said, lack of proper hygiene resulting in inadequate cleaning is usually the cause and is one that can easily be prevented with good oral care and consistent dental check-ups.

Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality of dentistry possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction is our priority.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here

Categories: Dental Health