In Houston and Memorial City, Texas

A dental abscess, or abscessed tooth, is a pocket of pus that forms in or around an infected tooth root. It can be a painful malady to experience…but Bunker Hill Dentistry can deliver relief. 

Whether you ultimately need a root canal or a tooth extraction to treat an abscess, we provide pain-free treatment by experienced specialists in a calm environment. 

What is a Dental Abscess?

3 tooth abscesses on top gum 3D

The exact definition of a dental abscess depends on its location in the mouth. 

If it’s occurred at the tip of the tooth root, it’s a periapical (meaning ‘around the apex’) abscess. If it’s located in the gums at the side of a tooth root, it’s a periodontal (meaning ‘around the tooth’) abscess. 

Either way, abscesses are characterized by the collection of pus formed by white blood cells in the area sent by the body to fight a bacterial infection. They are  generally painful, but not always. 

What Causes a Tooth Abscess?

Harmful bacteria are the culprit behind many dental problems, including abscesses. 

What happens is bacteria finds its way into the innermost part of the tooth where blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue is. The bacteria–likely present due to poor dental care–may get in through a chip or crack in the tooth, through a cavity, or through diseased gum tissue and spread all the way down to the tooth root. 

The resulting infection can cause inflammation, swelling, and ultimately an abscess before spreading to other places in the body, in extreme cases. 

Unfortunately, you can get more than one abscess at a time, and abscesses can “travel” and manifest in several spots, as well. However, multiple abscesses are more commonly associated with poor systemic health such as uncontrolled diabetes.

What Are the Symptoms of an Abscess?

You may experience: 

  • swollen face, cheek, or lymph nodes in neck
  • sensitivity to hot or cold foods
  • sensitivity to biting or chewing
  • shiny red or puffy gums
  • throbbing, painful toothache
  • noticeable bump on your gums
  • unidentified bad taste or odor in your mouth

All of these symptoms are reason enough to see a dentist, but if you experience flu-like symptoms (fever, difficulty swallowing or breathing), it’s a medical emergency. It could mean the infection has spread beyond your mouth. 

Why You Need to Get an Abscess Treated

A dental abscess won’t go away on its own, and in most cases it will be too uncomfortable to wait, anyway. 

If left untreated, losing the entire tooth becomes a possibility. 

And as we’ve mentioned, the infection can spread to other parts of the body such as the heart or airways. At that point, a number of serious illnesses are possible, such as bacterial endocarditis or even sepsis, which can cause life-threatening damage to multiple organ systems.

How Does Bunker Hill Dentistry Treat a Tooth Abscess?

Typically, a root canal procedure is necessary to save the tooth when an abscess has formed. It may be possible to resolve the issue by making a small incision in the gum and draining and cleaning the abscess, but often this is only a temporary fix. 

A root canal involves drilling down into the tooth to remove the damaged pulp, then cleaning, filling, and sealing the empty space and root canals, and likely later placing a crown or other restoration to restore the tooth to full health.

If the tooth is beyond a root canal’s ability to help, it will likely have to be extracted and the abscess drained. If so, a restoration such as a dental implant will then be necessary.  

While antibiotics won’t get rid of the abscess, they may be prescribed if the infection is spreading or if you have a compromised immune system.

Treatment summary
We will likely treat your abscess with either a root canal or tooth extraction. Learn all you need about these procedures:

Pain-free root canals
Anxiety-free tooth extractions
Why Bunker Hill Dentistry?
Dr. Le and Ann Le
Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le
Specialists – Our team–led by our experienced dentist, Dr. Le-can perform root canals, tooth extractions, and other procedures to get you the abscess relief you need.

Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Take a tour.

 Client satisfaction – We have one mission – total client satisfaction. “Care, Comfort, Convenience”is our guarantee to every client. More about Bunker Hill Dentistry.

Bunker Hill Dentistry Lobby View
Reception room at Bunker Hill Dentistry
State of the art – We utilize the most advanced technology such as the i-CAT 3D x-ray machine, All-On-4® implants and an anesthesia-delivery wand, for faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

 Conveniently located – Located in Memorial, just a short drive from Houston’s city center. Find us on the map.

Relieve Pain Before Your Appointment

An over-the-counter pain medicine such as Advil or Tylenol can help you manage discomfort until you get in to see the dentist. 

Cool, soft foods and a soft toothbrush can also help you avoid aggravating the abscess.

In addition, there are a number of home remedies that may help such as:

  • rinsing your mouth with saltwater
  • placing a cold compress against your face for a few minutes
  • dabbing the area with fenugreek tea or oregano essential oil
  • oil pulling 

Tips to Prevent Dental Abscesses

The beautiful thing about adhering to the recommended oral care routine is that it will help prevent not just abscesses, but all sorts of dental problems. That routine is:

  1. Brush twice per day for two minutes each session (but wait at least 30 minutes after eating).
  2. Floss once per day.
  3. Visit the dentist every six months.

If you want to go the extra mile, cut down your intake of sugary foods and drinks, which will benefit your overall health, as well. 

Protect your teeth and keep your smile looking amazing by following our simple Caring for Teeth guide.

Prepare for Your Visit to Bunker Hill Dentistry

Before coming to see us about a possible abscess, list out the following things so you can have the most streamlined visit:

  • your symptoms, how long they’ve been going on, and what makes them worse and better
  • any medications or supplements you’re taking
  • any recent mouth trauma or dental work 
  • any reasons you might have a weakened immune system

You can also research the common treatment methods so that you know what each entails in case the dentist recommends one of them in your case.  Learn more about root canals and tooth extractions at Bunker Hill Dentistry.

Schedule An Appointment

Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? To help you prepare for your first visit, read our new patient information page.