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A dental abscess requires immediate care.
A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that your body has formed to fight off a bacterial infection. When the pus is unable to drain, it forms an abscess. Dental abscesses occur due to untreated tooth decay, gum disease, and damage to your tooth. To treat the abscess, we need to drain the pus, remove the infected tissue (usually via a root canal or tooth extraction), and possibly prescribe a course of antibiotics.
While you’re waiting to see the dentist, there are a few things you can do to make yourself more comfortable. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water: combine a teaspoon of table salt with one cup of water. You can take over-the-counter prescription pain medication, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce pain and swelling.
A dental abscess is a dental emergency: when left untreated, the abscess can spread throughout your body, making you seriously ill. Seek emergency dental care immediately if you have a fever, pus is draining from your mouth, or if the abscessed area is swollen and warm. Other signs of a dental abscess include a foul odor in your mouth, swollen lymph nodes, and severe throbbing pain.
Even if your symptoms subside or the pus starts to drain, you still need dental care. The infection won’t go away until it is properly drained and treated with antibiotics.