Can a Tooth Abscess Heal?

Dental abscesses occur when there is a build-up of pus located in the teeth or gums. An abscess is caused by an infection and is considered an urgent issues which must be treated by a dentist. Unfortunately, dental abscesses will not go away on their own and require medical intervention.

Below are common signs of a dental abscess:

  1. Pain in the gums or a severe toothache
  2. Red areas inside the mouth, or externally on the face or jaw
  3. Sensitivity to hot or cold things around the affected area
  4. Bad taste in the mouth
  5. Challenges with chewing food and opening the mouth
  6. Swollen face or jaw
  7. High temperature or fever


Patients who think they may have a dental abscess should follow up with their dentist immediately and request the next available appointment. A dental abscess is a serious issue which must be treated in a timely manner. Patients who do not have a regular dentist they see, should follow up with local dentists to explain the problem. Many dentists intentional block time out of their schedules for emergency situations and they can often see patients who require urgent treatment.


In cases of a dental emergency or if the abscess occurs outside of regular office hours, patients should still call. Dentists often have an answering service or can page the dentist to discuss next steps.


If patients have any of the following symptoms, they should proceed to the emergency room or call 911:

  • Any difficulty breathing
  • Vision problems, swelling, or discomfort in the eyes
  • Significant swelling in the mouth


A dental abscess can cause significant discomfort. While patients wait for treatment, the following things can aid in minimizing the pain:

  • Over-the-counter painkillers including ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Consume soft foods such as yogurt, eggs, soup, and mashed potatoes to avoid harm to the affected area
  • Clean the teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Avoid consuming foods and drinks which are hot or cold and things high in sugar



A dentist needs to treat a dental abscess. Treatment will typically involve the dentist draining the pus. If there is an underlying issue with the tooth which is causing the abscess, additional treatment may be needed such as a root canal or tooth extraction of the tooth in severe cases. The dentist will use a local anesthetic to ensure the patient remains comfortable. The dentist may provide patients with painkillers following treatment or give the patient a prescription for antibiotics.



A dental abscess typically occurs when there is a build-up of pus below the teeth or gums. This is usually caused by an infection in the mouth. The following puts patients at an increased risk for a dental abscess:

  • An impacted tooth which has not properly erupted
  • Gum disease or tooth decay
  • Trauma or injury to the teeth, gums, or mouth
  • Patients who are undergoing chemotherapy


Dental abscesses can often be prevented through good oral hygiene practices. This includes brushing the teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily and flossing the teeth each day. Patients should replace their toothbrush every few months or anytime they begin to notice wear. Patients should avoid the use of tobacco products and ensure they eat a nutritious diet. It is also important to visit the dentist regularly for an examination and professional cleaning. These appointments also ensure any issues are detected and treated right away.

Dental Abscess Symptoms and Causes