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Dental Infections

Frequently Asked Questions

We want to answer any questions you might have about your oral care or upcoming dental visit. Learn about dental infections from our list of commonly asked questions below. Please feel free to call our office with any additional questions not listed here.

Dental Infections

  • A Dental Abscess is a pocket of pus from a bacterial infection that forms around a tooth. It can affect not only the tooth, but also the surrounding soft tissues, bone, and adjacent teeth.


  • This infection develops in the gums and does not usually affect the tooth or supporting structures.
  • Can be caused by food impaction or poor oral hygiene.
  • Usually treated by removing the source of infection, cleaning and disinfecting the area, and possibly antibiotics.



  • A periapical abscess is an infection that forms at the tip of the root of a tooth.
  • This occurs when bacteria from the inside of the tooth (caused by a cavity or fracture) spreads to the pulp, or nerve, of the tooth. After the bacteria invades the pulp, it will eventually spread to the tip of the tooth’s root causing the infection to spread to the surrounding bone, leading to an abscess.
  • Treatments include antibiotics and either Root Canal Therapy or Extraction depending on the condition of the tooth and size of the infection.



  • This infection starts in bone and tissues that support the tooth, usually resulting from periodontitis or gum disease.
  • Often does not involve the nerve of the tooth, but may in some cases.
  • Treatments may include antibiotics and either scaling and root planing to remove the source of the infection and drain the pus or possibly Extraction depending on the condition of the tooth and surrounding soft tissues and bone.
  • Pain that can be sharp or shooting, achy and throbbing, continuous or only when chewing, or radiating to the face, jaw or neck
  • Redness or swelling of the gums
  • Bleeding when brushing, flossing, or eating
  • Tooth sensitivity to temperature or biting
  • Loosening of the tooth
  • Bitter taste in mouth or foul smelling breath
  • Swelling in the upper or lower jaws, or glands of the neck
  • Fever
  • You should call your dentist immediately upon noticing any signs or symptoms of infection. In some cases, the pain may stop if the nerve inside the tooth dies or if the infection is draining on its own. However, the infection will still be present and will continue to spread and destroy surrounding bone.