Tooth Abscess | Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

woman holding her mouth due to pain caused by a tooth abscess

A Tooth Abscess or Dental Abscess is an accumulation of pus. There are a few reasons a dental abscess may occur, but most commonly it is resulting from a dental infection. It is not always visible in the mouth but can be seen on an x-ray.  If untreated, this condition can cause extreme pain and swelling and can progress to a severe, life-threating infection. In this article, Dr. Rozelle Owens will explain how to treat a dental abscess and its causes and symptoms.

What is an abscessed tooth and what are its symptoms?

In most of the cases, a dental abscess starts as untreated tooth decay. Bacteria invade and infect the dental which is the inner part of the tooth where the nerve and blood vessels of the tooth are. The nerve and blood vessels die, and the infection spreads to the apex of the tooth where a dental abscess forms. Trauma to the tooth can also cause pulpal death and an abscess. Sometimes there may be a small sinus that looks like a spot on the gum with pus exuding from it. The spot may burst and appear to disappear only to reappear as more pus accumulates.

abscess formation and treatment

Dental Abscess can also be caused by gum diseases, like gingivitis or periodontitis. These type of abscess are in the gum and will present as a swelling around the neck of the tooth and can be very painful.

In the infected tooth, the following signs and symptoms are usually present:

  • Pain – a constant throbbing and pulsing pain around the tooth or affected gingival area, which may intensify when chewing or lying down that keeps you awake at night.
  • Inflammation of the gingiva (gum disease) – redness, or swelling of the gums;
  • Swelling around the affected tooth that can spread to the surrounding tissues, in severe cases this can restrict the airways which is very serious
  • Swollen lymph nodes;
  • Difficulty in opening the jaw.
  • Bad breath or bitter taste in the mouth;

You should urgently seek the dentist if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, usually already associated with advanced stages of tooth abscess:

  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Diarrhea.
  • Difficulty breathing

“If the pulp in the root of the tooth degenerates and dies as a result of infection, the toothache may stop. However, this does not mean that the infection has been cleared. This is only the start, once the pulp dies, the infection will follow, and a dental abscess will form, treatment from a dentist is the only solution. The abscess has now reached a chronic infected state. This can develop at any point to an acute infection which will be very painful and dangerous”, says Dr. Rozelle. If you experience any of the symptoms described above, it is important to consult your dentist, even if the pain disappears.

How dangerous is an abscessed tooth? Can an infection from a tooth kill you?

If the tooth abscess is not treated, it can lead to tooth loss and significant lesions in the surrounding tissues. The infection can spread to other organs of the body and can lead to breathing problems, bacterial heart disease and a blood infection known as sepsis; all life threatening. So yes, not treating the infection can become a dangerous issue for the patient’s health and a tooth infection can be lethal. For this reason, it is important that the appointment with the dentist is made right after the first signs and symptoms.  Unlike other parts of the body, infection in the teeth will not self-resolve, treatment is the only solution.

What is the treatment for Tooth Abscess?

The treatment of a dental abscess is done according to its location, evolution and the affected areas. It may be necessary to have an x-ray of the tooth to check if there are no infections in other parts of the mouth, which have not yet formed abscesses.

To eliminate the infection, the abscess may have to be drained. The dentist will make sure that the area is numb. Then, make a small incision or cut in the area of the abscess, remove or let drain the pus and clean the area with an antiseptic solution. This procedure usually allows an immediate relief of symptoms but, remember; this does not mean that the infection has been cleared. The dentist will proceed to remove all of the affected contents inside the tooth and finally restore the crown of the tooth – in other words; the dentist will perform root canal therapy.

In some incidence, the tooth may need to be extracted in cases where it is no longer possible to restore the affected tooth.


If the infection is limited to the area of the abscess, you may not need antibiotics. But if the infection has spread and you have swelling and fever; it will probably be necessary to prescribe antibiotics.

In addition, you should not stop using the medication without consulting your dentist, even if the symptoms stop completely.

Can I treat an abscessed tooth at home?

No, there is no home treatment for a dental abscess. Do not attempt to pierce or burst your pocket. In case the tooth abscess drains spontaneously, the pain may subside, but this will not mean that the treatment should be stopped or that you are cured. The infection may spread to other areas of the mouth, and may even reach other parts of the body.

salt water mouth wash to relieve tooth abscess pain

At home, applying cold compresses can help relieve inflammation. Beware of some homemade or natural treatment sometimes described on some blogs as certain substances can further aggravate the problem. Warm salt-water rinses will help clean the mouth, encourage drainage and alleviate discomfort until you are able to see your dentist. Painkillers can relieve the discomfort and diminish the pain, but they will not treat the abscess.

If you think you have a tooth abscess, make an appointment at D4Dentist. Do not be afraid. We cater for nervous patients, and we ensure that your experience will be stress-and-pain-free.

[Video] Wisdom Tooth Infection: What Causes It and What You Can Do


[Video] Wisdom Tooth Infection: What Causes It and What You Can Do – When the wisdom tooth is pushing through the gum, there is a flap of gum covering it. Plaque bacteria and food particles can get trapped underneath that. It can be difficult to keep the area clean, and this leads to an infection.

The symptoms can range from moderate to severe pain. You can also suffer from bad breath, facial swelling, sore throat, earache, difficulty opening your mouth, fever and difficulty breathing.

Click here and read another article about gum infection associated with the wisdom tooth. 🙂

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Book online! 🙂 

Teeth Whitening treatment – 50% OFF

Smile brighter and whiter for summer in Dublin! Teeth Whitening treatment plus a dental exam – 50% OFF. 😀
We will be waiting for you at D4 Dentist!


Click here and book online! 🙂 


Are you a nervous patient?

Have you ever ignored a toothache just because the idea of walking into a dentist surgery make you freeze with fear? Are you a nervous patient? Don’t worry! You’re definitely not the only one.

For many people, the idea of having to go to the dentist can trigger loads of unpleasant feelings, such as anxiety, fear, panic and embarrassment. Even simple routine treatments can cause feelings of absolute dread. Many people haven’t had a bad experience at the dentist, but the fear has been passed down from a family member. This can lead to generation after generation growing up with dental phobia.


At D4Dentist we cater for nervous patients. It means that we take special care and time to make sure you are comfortable with your dental treatment. “Dental anxiety is not to be taken lightly. We exercise patience and understanding; we will teach you the techniques you need to overcome your dental anxiety so that all future dental treatment can be stress-free”, explains Dr. Rozelle Owens.

“We understand some people are nervous and uncomfortable. We can also offer mild sedation for people who just need a little help to overcome their fears. However, we find that in nearly every case, sedation is not needed”, she adds.

Most fear is born out of the unknown: you do not know what is going to happen and are afraid of being hurt. We spend plenty of time explaining all of our treatments so patients always know what is going on.

Get to know our 4 steps to treat every patient – nervous or not – at D4 Dentist 

We hear and we talk – We want to know your previous experiences and what made you afraid of dentist. Then, your treatment will be prepared and we will explain it to you in detail. We want you to be aware of every step in advance and we will make sure that you are comfortable with your options.

We breathe – We can perform a calming breathing exercise to relax you that will balance your anxiety and stress.

We work together – When a new patient starts a treatment, we feel that we are a team and we work together to achieve one goal: a healthy smile.

We can block out the unpleasant dental noises – At D4Dentist, we offer our patients Bose Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones with Spotify.

Bose Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones

In other words, our patients can listen to their favourite music instead of all the not so nice dental sounds. Our patients just love it!  Our aim is to bring you to a point where you enjoy your appointments!

Nervous patient – Tips to overcome your fear of dentist:

Book your appointment for the next day – The less you have to wait, the less anxious you will be. Click here and book online NOW!

Ask questions – Never leave room for doubt. If you didn’t understand how you treatment will be conducted ask for a detailed explanation. Being aware of what will be done will boost your confidence.

Don’t hide your condition – It’s okay to be afraid of the dentist, you’re not the first and definitely won’t be the last. Let your dentist know about your concerns so he/she will be able to adapt the treatment to your needs.

You’re not alone – Bring a friend or family member if you want a bit more support from a familiar face.

Everyone can overcome their fears and finish their treatment with success. This is a great achievement for them and for us. 🙂

If you could relate to something in this article, don’t hesitate: book an appointment and we can discuss the best treatment for you.


Over 40s? Get to know how to keep your smile and mouth looking youthful

The benefits of having a beautiful smile are uncountable: high self-esteem, confidence, happiness and wellbeing to name a few. Over the years, however, the natural wear can result in chipped teeth and colour ranging from yellow to brown-ish. Some people embrace the ageing as a natural process, while others prefer to rejuvenate the smile and instantly their visage. If you fit in the second group, this article is for you! Check out some treatments available and what habits to avoid.

Teeth Whitening – Even if your teeth are healthy, they can lose their bright white structure if you are used to drinking coffee and tea every day. Also, our teeth naturally darken with age. And let’s face it; no one wants to look older! Teeth also darken for other reasons, many of which can be treated effectively with Dental Whitening Treatments.

Tooth whitening is a safe and effective way to help combat the signs of ageing and treat discolouration.  It is the most widely sought cosmetic dental treatment. It is safe, effective and affordable. By whitening the teeth using a gradual process we can achieve a brilliant painless result. We offer affordable tooth whitening, perfect for a special occasion or just to brighten your smile.

All of our tooth whitening treatments are carried out by a registered dental practitioner under the guidelines of the dental council of Ireland.

 Dental veneers – Veneers are a cover over the natural tooth, they are an excellent method of improving the smile profile. A very thin shell of porcelain which looks extremely natural is placed over the front of the tooth. Veneers are a great way to cover up previously discoloured and unsightly teeth giving you the smile you always wanted.

 Teeth bonding – Chipped, fractured or discoloured teeth also make your mouth look less youthful. This technique follows the principles of minimally invasive dentistry and is the application of a tooth-coloured composite resin to repair the appearance of the teeth.

dental bonding dublin d4 dentist

Some smile Enemies

Gum Disease – Keeping your gums healthy is really important! Gum disease is linked to many systemic issues such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia and erectile dysfunction, for example. “Healthy gums should be firm and pale pink, they should not bleed when you brush or floss. The good news is gum disease is completely reversible, however when gum disease becomes advanced the bone supporting the teeth can become affected which in turn can cause your teeth to become loose and eventually fall out”, says Rozelle Owens. “That’s why prevention is key. Regular hygiene visits and a good home oral hygiene regime are paramount to good oral dental health”.

Another issue that can affect your self-esteem is bad breath; 65% of bad breath is caused by gum disease.

Smoking – Beyond being responsible for darkening your teeth, smoking is hugely linked to periodontal disease (advanced gum disease), which leads to tooth loss, another reason to stop if you are still smoking.

Wine, soft drinks and acidic juices – Are you one who prefer soda for the “taste” and doesn’t like drinking plain water? Or consume daily industrialised orange juice? All fizzy drinks and juices are very acidic and will wash away the enamel.


We want to draw your attention to the moderate consumption of these products since these substances are easily accessible on a daily basis and can damage the teeth. “Occasionally, eating a food or drinking an acidic beverage is okay, but if taken frequently they can do a lot of damage to your teeth, drinking water is best”, finishes Dr. Owens.

We want you to enjoy your life happy and healthy!  :) Visit us at D4Dentist to ensure the best for your oral health!


Pericoronitis – Gum infection associated with Wisdom Teeth

When the wisdom teeth are erupting, usually during the late adolescence or early 20s, many problems can occur inside the mouth. When the tooth is not yet fully erupted, pericoronitis  can occur.

Pericoronitis is one of the most common problems related to wisdom teeth. When the tooth is pushing up through the gum, it takes a while. This means there is a flap of gum tissue covering the tooth can easily hold food particles and plaque. “As the hygiene of the area is not very easy to maintain, the presence of food waste can be constant and plaque bacteria will grow, causing inflammation and infection in the area”, explains Dr. Rozelle Owens. Symptoms range from medium or excessive pain and swelling to difficulty opening the mouth, sore throat, and bad breath. In more severe cases, symptoms may also include fever, earache and difficulty breathing! Moreover, as this area will be swollen, it is quite possible that the opposite tooth above the area exacerbates the problem by biting down on the swollen gum causing more swelling and pain. Ouch!

Pericoronitis Dublin

Sometimes the wisdom teeth come up at the wrong angle causing them to become Impacted. This means that the tooth is not in the right position and is unable to erupt fully. When they are impacted, they cannot come up normally and the gum may never reveal the tooth. This means repeated bouts of pericoronitis may occur.

Treatment of pericoronitis – The reaction of patients affected by pericoronitis is to avoid touching the site during brushing, either to avoid pain or because of the fear of worsening the situation. “In fact, the treatment is precisely the opposite. It is necessary to intensify the cleaning of the area, in order to remove food particles and plaque bacteria that have accumulated below the gum. Patients also need to use salty water mouthwash and perform at least four rinses throughout the day for about 10 minutes” adds Owens. To make a salty mouthwash: put one to two teaspoons of salt in a cup of warm water.

In more severe cases, antibiotics may be necessary. If the tooth is impacted, usually surgical removal is indicated and can be performed under local anaesthetic by a specialist oral surgeon. Sometimes more than one or all four wisdom teeth can be taken out at the same time under general anaesthetic.

Pericoronitis go away on its own? Untreated pericoronitis can be very painful and in severe cases dangerous as the area is very close to the airway in the neck. Swelling in this area could cause difficulty breathing. If you have pain associated with wisdom teeth try salty mouthwashes and cleaning the area thoroughly. If the pain persists you need to visit your dentist. Even if the pain does go away and the infection heals, its best to get it checked in case the teeth are impacted.

Pericoronitis – How long does it last? Untreated, it can last weeks and progress to a dangerous level quite quickly. When treated it will clear up quickly being completely healed in a few days.

If you think you have pericoronitis, don’t worry: it’s very treatable. Try our tips and see your dentist. 😀


Oral Care during pregnancy – what you should know

It is not uncommon for the mother-to-be to have oral health problems. The extra hormones in the body during pregnancy can make pregnant women more susceptible to gum disease. This means keeping plaque bacteria under control is even more important. “During pregnancy, several changes occur in the female body that can lead to the onset or worsening of dental problems,” says Dr. Rozelle Owens. “The change of hormones in pregnancy affects the immune system, making the gums more sensitive to the plaque bacteria that cause gum disease. One of the most common symptoms of this disease is intense and spontaneous bleeding during brushing,” adds Dr. Owens. If not addressed it can become advanced gum disease which can lead to tooth loss.

According to dentists, pregnant women must be advised about the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day and on reducing the consumption of sweets. In some cases, the taste of toothpastes can cause nausea, leading pregnant women to neglect oral care during pregnancy. A solution could be using different flavoured toothpaste or just brushing with water; this is better than not brushing at all. Using interdental brushes or dental floss is also very important.

Dr Rozelle Owens recommends that if you are thinking about getting pregnant or are already expecting it’s a good idea to have your oral health assessment and scale and polish at least twice during the pregnancy, since the latest research has discovered links between gum disease and low birth weight and premature birth.

It’s not just women that need to get assessed –  Gum disease has been linked to low fertility in men; a man is 8 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction if he has gum disease.

Vomiting – Common in the first quarter, vomiting makes your mouth more acidic, which can harm tooth enamel. Dr. Owens points out that after vomiting, it is best to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash. Do not brush your teeth after vomiting for at least 30 minutes. The acid makes the enamel soft so brushing straight after can also damage your teeth.

Routine dental treatment such as fillings are perfectly safe during normal pregnancy. It is more dangerous to be in pain as this causes stress to the mother and therefore the baby. In Ireland we do not give dental x-rays to pregnant women, but if you need a root canal filling, don’t worry: the 1st part can be done safely which will make you pain free. The treatment can be finished once your baby is born.

If you’re pregnant it’s best to give your dentist a visit as these problems are very manageable when addressed early.

We want you to enjoy your pregnancy happy and healthy!  🙂 Visit us at D4Dentist to ensure the best for your oral health!


Teeth whitening: smile brighter and whiter for Summer!

Smile brighter and whiter for summer in Dublin! Teeth Whitening treatment plus a dental exam – 50% OFF. 😀
We will be waiting for you at D4 Dentist! 

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How to keep your mouth healthy when you have a sweet tooth?

How to keep your mouth healthy when you have a sweet tooth?

Giving up sugar is hard but we have some good news. Rozelle Owens is ready to explain it. 🙂

Watch our first video! 🙂