How Does an Abscess Form?

Abscesses are formed because a collection of pus has accumulated from bacteria, parasites, or other foreign materials. These form because this is a defensive reaction of the tissue to prevent more spreading of infectious materials to other parts of the body.

Abscesses generally require surgical removal, especially if a foreign object is the cause. Abscesses rarely heal by themselves, so it is important to get medical attention if you suspect an abscess has formed.

What is an Abscess?

An abscessed tooth is often quite painful and is an infection starting at the root of a tooth or between the gums and a tooth. It is often formed by heavy tooth decay, but may also develop from trauma to the tooth such as a broken or chipped area, gingivitis or gum disease. These may cause openings to the tooth enamel where the bacteria will infect the center of the tooth, called the pulp. The infection may also spread to the bones supporting the teeth.

Symptoms of an Abscess

Having an abscessed tooth is most commonly identified by chronic and severe tooth ache. The feeling of the tooth ache is compared as gnawing, throbbing, or a sharp pain. There are other signs and they are:

  • Pain while chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Swollen Neck Glands
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or feeling ill
  • Redness or swelling of the gums
  • Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw
  • An open, draining sore on the side of the gum
  • Fever

The root of the tooth may die as a result of the infection and the toothache may stop, but this doesn't mean the infection is healed. If the infection remains, it may continue to spread and damage other tissue. If you fear you may have an abscessed tooth, contact us immediately.

Once you reach the office, we will probe your teeth with a dental instrument to see if you indeed do have an abscessed tooth. We will also check if you have pain while biting down. We may also take x-rays of the area.


In order to get rid of the infection, the abscess may need to be drained. This may be achieved by using a root canal procedure. Root canal surgery may also be done to remove any other of the diseased tissue. Once the infection has calmed down, a crown will be placed over the tooth.