Best Treatment Options for Dental Abscess

The best treatment options for a dental abscess depend on the severity and location of the infection. The goal of treatment is to get rid of the infection. To do this, your dentist may:

  • Open up (incise) and drain the abscess. The dentist makes a small cut into the abscess, allowing the pus to drain out. The dentist then washes the area with salt water (saline). Occasionally, a small rubber drain is placed to keep the area open for drainage while the swelling goes down.
  • Do a root canal. This can help get rid of the infection and save your tooth. To do this, your dentist drills down into your tooth, removes the diseased central tissue (pulp) and drains the abscess. The dentist then fills and seals the tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals. The tooth may be capped with a crown to make it stronger, especially if this is a back tooth. If you care for your restored tooth properly, it can last a lifetime.
  • Pull the affected tooth. If the affected tooth can’t be saved, your dentist will pull (extract) the tooth and drain the abscess to get rid of the infection.
  • Prescribe antibiotics. If the infection is limited to the abscessed area, you may not need antibiotics. But if the infection has spread to nearby teeth, your jaw or other areas, your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics to stop it from spreading further. Your dentist may also recommend antibiotics if you have a weakened immune system.

Pain management

Over the counter (OTC) painkillers may help reduce the pain while an individual is waiting for treatment. It is important to follow the information on the packet carefully. Painkillers are only there for pain reduction and cannot replace a visit to a dentist.

Aspirin, ibuprofen or Tylenol (paracetamol) are effective painkillers. However, some are unsuitable for certain types of patients (read below):

  • Ibuprofen and asthma: If you are asthmatic, do not take ibuprofen.
  • Ibuprofen and stomach ulcers: Do not take ibuprofen if you have, or ever had stomach ulcers.
  • Aspirin and children: Do not give aspirin to children under 16 years of age.
  • Aspirin and pregnancy and breastfeeding: Do not take aspirin if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Lifestyle and home remedies

While the area is healing, your dentist may recommend these steps to help ease discomfort:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
  • Take nonprescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), as needed.

In summary, treatments for dental abscess includes drainage of abscess from the gum, root canal involving removal of infected tissues and abscess, tooth extraction to get rid of abscess or infection and use of antibiotics for the treatment of any bacterial infections that might have developed. Your dentist may also provide pain management options, such as pain relievers or a numbing agent, to help alleviate any discomfort.

It’s important to seek prompt treatment for a dental abscess as it can spread to other areas of the head and neck and potentially become life-threatening if left untreated. After treatment, it’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent future infections.