Tooth abscess is a collection of pus which is formed by body’s defense mechanism to trap and stop the infection from spreading in to the blood stream. The infection spreads to the inner layers of the tooth when a tooth cavity or caries is left untreated. Cavity or caries are formed when foreign substances enter in to the tooth through weak enamel, chipped tooth or cracked tooth.
Neglected tooth abscess often leads to life threatening complications. Analyze your tooth’s current infection stage to take right decision towards healing it.
What Causes Tooth Abscess?
Many modern dentists and commercial tooth products blame bacteria for an infection. Yet it’s not exactly true. We cannot ignore the fact that bacteria are present everywhere and every time. If bacteria are really the main reason then teeth would have been decayed while we were still kids. Poor dental hygiene and weak immune system are the main reasons behind tooth decay.
Symptoms of tooth Abscess:
- Persistent and severe toothache.
- Pain that spreads to the ear, neck and jaw on the side of affected tooth.
- Sensitivity to cold, hot temperatures.
- Pain while chewing.
- Redness and swelling in your face and jaw.
- Foul smelling and foul tasting fluid in your mouth.
- Discolored to tooth.
- Swollen lymph nodes under your jaw.
Apart from the above if you are experiencing high fever, difficulty in breathing or swallowing it is recommended to consult a dentist immediately.
Home Remedies For Abscess Tooth:
These methods will not resolve the abscess, but control the painful symptoms temporarily until you see a dentist.
Garlic contains sulfur-containing amino acid called allicin which is rich in antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (2) It also contains natural anesthetic properties which provide relief from pain and sensitivity.
- Apply freshly extracted garlic juice or garlic paste or sliced clove on the infected tooth for few minutes and rinse off with water.
- You can also add garlic juice into a cup of water and gargle with it 2 – 3 times in a day.
- Add garlic into your cooking or salads to strengthen your immune system and combat the infection.
Caution: Avoid internal consumption of garlic 2 weeks before surgery as it can increase the risk of bleeding.
Note: Garlic application may cause slight burning sensation initially but it will reduce in some time. Avoid its application on cheek for a long time as it can cause garlic burns.
Garlic supplements can also be used to treat tooth abscess discomforts. Crush the tablet, mix it with some water and apply the paste on the infected tooth for few minutes. Rinse off with water thoroughly.
2. Clove Oil
It also contains anti-fungal, antiseptic and bactericidal properties which wipe off the germs causing infection.
As per Atlanta Dental Group, dentists use clove oil to treat tooth pain temporarily until they insert permanent filling which helps to avoid root canal. As per Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs has approved the clove oil use in dentistry as topical anesthetic.
Cloves can be used in three forms – oil, ground and whole.
- Clove Oil: Gently rub clove oil on the affected tooth. Or else dip a cotton ball in clove oil and place it on the affected tooth as long as possible. For some people clove oil can cause burning sensation, they can dilute it in olive oil and apply it on the infected tooth.
- Ground Clove: Mix ground clove and coconut/sesame/mustard oil. Apply a small amount of the mixture on the infected tooth.
- Whole Cloves: Chew on 1 – 2 whole cloves by placing them on the infected tooth. Let the juices stay there for few minutes and spit them out.
Whichever method you choose make sure to repeat it 2 – 3 times in a day to get relief.
Caution: As per MedlinePlus, topical application of clove oil should be used for treating dental problems only on a short term basis. Applying clove oil for a longer period of time can
3. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a practice used in ancient Ayurveda to maintain oral health and promote detoxification of the teeth as well as mouth. Lipids in the oil will pull out bacteria and prevent it from sticking to the oral cavity walls which relieves pain and infection. (5)
- Take a tablespoon of coconut oil into mouth. Swish or pull it around and through the teeth without swallowing it.
- You have to do this for about 20 minutes and spit it out. Now, you can observe that oil has turned into white from clear. This is an indication of right oil pulling.
- Rinse mouth thoroughly with water and pat dry.
- Repeat the process 2 – 3 times daily or as needed.
4. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil contains anti-septic properties which helps to combat the bacteria causing tooth abscess. It also contains anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. (6)
- Gently massage peppermint oil on the infected area using your fingers or a cotton ball.
- Repeat the application 2 – 3 times in a day or as required.
- Alternatively, you can apply crushed peppermint leaves on the infected area.
5. Warm Salt Water
Salt contains antimicrobial and disinfectant properties which not only help to combat bacteria but also reduce pain, inflammation and other discomforts caused by tooth abscess. (7)
Warm salt water also helps to drain the pus and prevent infection from spreading to other parts of the mouth. For this process, you can either use Epsom salt, unrefined sea salt or ordinary salt.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water.
- Mix well until the salt gets completely diluted.
- Rinse your mouth with the solution and spit it out.
- Repeat the process at least 2 times in a day.
Note: You may experience increased pain in the first few washes before providing relief.
6. Herbal Tea Bag
The tannins present in tea acts as astringent which clears the infection by absorbing the toxins and flushing out the pus. The caffeine present in tea contains analgesic properties which help to reduce pain and swelling. (8)
- Place a used wet tea bag on the infected tooth before going to sleep.
- Leave it overnight and remove it in them morning.
- Rinse with salt water.
- Repeat the process regularly to get relief from the tooth pain and reduce abscess.
7. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil contains two powerful compounds called carvacrol and thymol. These compounds contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. (9). Its application also helps to ease pain and reduce swelling effectively.
- Directly apply few drops of oregano oil on the infected tooth.
- Alternatively, you can add few drops of oregano oil into 1/4 cup of water and use it to rinse your mouth.
- Repeat any process 2 – 4 times in a day or as needed.
The alkaline nature of potato has antiseptic properties effect on the infection. The acidic property of potato pulp sloughs off the dead skin cells and infected material. Potassium present in potato plays a major role in speeding up the healing process.
Though there are no scientific studies backing up the claim, many people got relief from the tooth abscess using the following potato remedy.
- Place a raw potato slice between the infected area and cheek before going to sleep.
- Leave it overnight and remove in the morning.
- Rinse with water thoroughly.
- Follow the method regularly as needed.
9. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are effective in treating tooth abscess as they contain antibacterial properties. They also help to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Bring a cup of water to boil.
- Add 4 teaspoon of sesame seeds into it and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the flame and let it cool down to room temperature.
- Using a cotton ball, apply the water on the affected tooth.
- Repeat the application few times in a day or as required.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties which makes it an effective remedy in treating tooth abscess. It also provides relief from tooth pain and some oral diseases related to bacteria (10)
- Dip a cotton ball into unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
- Place it on the infected teeth and leave it on for few minutes.
- Remove it and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.
- Repeat the process as required.
For added benefits: Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into to glass of water and drink it.
11. Baking Soda
Baking soda normalizes the pH levels of the saliva in the mouth which in turn makes your teeth resistant to bacterial infections. The cleansing property of baking soda exfoliates any bacteria and other foreign particles present in the mouth. (11)
- Combine 1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt.
- Roll a damp cotton ball in the mixture and place it in-between the affected tooth and cheek.
- Leave it on for 3 – 5 hours.
- Repeat regularly as needed.
Alternative Method: Apply baking soda directly to the infected tooth. Or else swish your mouth using baking soda (1 teaspoon) diluted water (1 glass).
12. Olive Oil
Olive oil contains antibacterial properties which help to combat with the infection causing bacteria. It also helps to provide relief from inflammation and pain.
- Using a cotton ball, apply olive oil on the infected tooth and sore gums.
- Or else you can take 1 tablespoon of olive oil into mouth. Swish for few minutes and spit out.
- You can repeat any process 2 – 3 times in a day.
Calendula and its extracts have been used since many ages to treat a wide range of ailments. It contains antiplaque and anti-gingivitis properties. (12) Its leaves help to provide relief from infection, inflammation and pain.
- Crush calendula leaves into a smooth paste.
- Using a cotton swab, apply the paste on the affected tooth.
- Leave it on for 15 – 20 minutes and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.
- Repeat the process regularly as needed.
Alternative Method: Use oral gels or toothpastes containing calendula.
14. Hydrogen Peroxide
Being a natural disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide prevents bacterial growth and prevents it from spreading to other areas. (13) It also helps to reduce inflammation and pain associated with tooth abscess.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide and a tablespoon of warm water.
- Rinse your mouth with the solution and spit it out.
- Repeat the process regularly as needed.
Alternative Method: Using a cotton ball, apply the solution to the affected area. Leave it on for few minutes and rinse off with water.
Plantain contains anti-inflammatory and soothing properties which help to reduce swollen gums. They also help to combat the bacteria causing infection.
- Crush few plantain leaves into a smooth paste.
- Apply the paste on the affected area.
- Leave it on for 20 minutes or until the pain is gone.
- Rinse with water thoroughly.
- Repeat the method 2 – 3 times daily or as needed.
Papaya is a wonderful fruit which contains a repository of nutrients which helps to combat the infection. Apart from that, it also boosts the immune system to fight the infection from within.
- Place a fresh papaya slice on the affected area and gum tissues.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Repeat the method regularly as needed.
17. Cold Compress
A cold compress is one of the first things you have to do while suffering from tooth pain. The coolness numbs the nerves carrying pain signals. It also reduce inflammation of the gums and face.
- Warp some ice cubes in a clean cloth.
- Place it outside the mouth on the infected area.
- Leave it on for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Repeat the method regularly as needed.
Note: Instead of ice compress, use a frozen bag of vegetables or a cold water bottle.
As per a study, it confirmed that turmeric is very helpful for treating gingivitis. As per Indian Journal of Dental Research, it is effective in treating most of them including tooth abscess by reducing swelling, pain and killing bacteria. (14, 15)
- Combine 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and water to make a paste.
- Apply the paste on the infected tooth.
- Leave it on for 15 – 20 minutes and rinse off with water thoroughly.
- Repeat the process 2 times in a day.
Alternative Method: Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of water. Using this solution rinse your mouth. Repeat the process regularly.
19. Tooth Infection Healing Recipe
This recipe helps to provide effective relief in stopping tooth infection and throbbing pain related to it. This a raw food dish so try it only if you are ok to consume it.
- Into a glass jar, add 4oz yellow butter, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon raw honey.
- Close the lid and immerse into a bowl of hot water.
- Once the ingredients are melted, add ground bison/beef or lamb.
- Stir well and consume it.
Tips and Precautions to Prevent or Treat Tooth Abscess
In addition to home remedies or doctor’s treatment, these tips help to speed up recovery and more importantly prevent you from having an abscessed tooth in future.
1. Reduce Intake Of High-Sugar Diet
Consuming a high-sugar would eventually causes tooth decay which further leads to an abscessed tooth as bacteria can quickly thrive on sugar. If you are thirsty, drink healthier thirst-quenchers instead of sugar-rich drinks.
2. Avoid Acidic Beverages
Examples of these beverages include lime juice, lemon juice, and cranberry juice. The acid content in these beverages are high enough to erode teeth enamel if consistently consumed. Below are some tips to note when you drink these beverages
- Sip acidic drinks with a straw rather than drinking them, to avoid tooth enamel erosion.
- Rinse mouth with water after drinking acidic beverages.
- Wait for about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after consuming acidic beverages, so the toothbrush does not rub acid on the teeth which further damage your teeth.
3. Good Oral Hygiene
Replace your toothbrush once in every 3 months of use or when it gets blunt or frayed. Ensure you engage in routine dental flossing.
Use fluoride toothpaste to brush teeth gently twice every day. You can also use an antiseptic or fluoride mouthwash. Fluoride keeps the teeth plaque-free and inhibits survival of bacteria in the mouth
5. Protect Mouth From Injury
If you participate in high impact sports such as hockey, basketball, football, and lacrosse then it is better to wear a mouth guard to protect teeth from injuries. If you have the habit of grinding teeth then you would need a mouth guard.
6. Regular Dental Visit
It is always advised to visit a doctor at least 2 times in a year for a check-up and cleaning the teeth. This helps to find out any cavities or infection in early stages thus your tooth gets saved.
7. Avoid Constant Snacking
Constant snacking means food and debris would always get stuck between your teeth, encouraging bacterial growth. If you feel like snacking, try healthy mouth-cleansing choices such as apple, celery, and carrots.
8. Avoid Pencil Chewing
Chewing pencil may cause the teeth to break, risking an infection. If you chew pencil out of anxiety, stop it and try chewing sugarless gum. This boosts production of saliva which helps to cleanse your mouth, flush off the toxins and food debris.
9. Avoid Caffeine
Coffee makes your mouth dry, this restricts the flushing of bacteria and food debris. This in turn would eventually decay your tooth.
10. Quit Tobacco Smoking
Smoking damages gums and teeth, attracting bacteria to infect them. Smoking also erodes the tooth enamel slowly.
11. Avoid Binge Eating
Binge eating may sometimes lead to vomiting. Since vomiting is acidic, it can cause erosion of teeth, and an eventual decay.
Use over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and diclofenac which helps to reduce the pain and swelling or make it bearable.
13. Stay hydrated
This keeps saliva flowing in your mouth freely. Saliva helps to cleanse the mouth steadily, preventing attachment of bacteria to your teeth.
Other Causes Of An Abscessed Tooth
Here’s a detailed description of causes that lead to abscessed tooth. Understanding the causes helps to prevent tooth infections in future.
1. Tongue Piercings
Tongue piercings may cause teeth to break, leading to dental repair which may further increase the risk of infection. Additionally, tongue piercings encourage build-up of bacteria in the mouth, increasing the risk of a tooth abscess.
Tongue piercings may also get infected, causing a potentially fatal situation which could obstruct your airway and causing death.
2. Teeth Grinding
This is also called bruxism and may be inherited or caused by stress. When you grind your teeth, you may break the teeth, chip it, leading eventually to loss of a tooth or two. Tooth loss increases the risk of having it abscessed.
Smoking causes your mouth to dry out and also increase the amount of plaques and debris in the mouth. These factors encourage bacterial growth and cause tooth decay. Additionally, smoking causes gum disease and mouth cancer, both of which may cause tooth damage and loss.
Complications Of A Tooth Abscess
If left untreated, the tooth abscess may lead to serious complications including:
- Infection of the jaw bone
- Spread of the pus cells through some vessels to the brain which could be fatal.
- Spread of the infection to other areas of the mouth in a condition called Ludwig’s angina
- Death of the skin tissues around the abscess.
How Doctors Cure Abscessed Tooth?
Doctor can easily tell if you are having a tooth abscess just by examining it and asking some questions. However, if the abscess is very large or your symptoms such as fever and facial swelling are so severe, he might ask to undergo some tests to determine the nature of the abscess and rule out complications.
Some of these tests include:
- Complete blood count and blood culture: To check if the infection has spread to blood stream and to detect the bacterium causing it.
- Needle aspirate: Here a sample of the abscess is collected with a needle and the sample is analyzed to detect which bacterium caused tooth abscess.
- Imaging studies: A plain X-ray of mouth helps to provide information on the level of teeth damage and surrounding structures.
The primary treatment for a simple tooth abscess involves draining the abscess with a needle and syringe also known as root canal treatment.
However, if the damage done to your tooth is extensive, the tooth may be extracted at once. Sometimes, he would suggest that your wisdom tooth be removed as well since it is common to get infected and abscessed.
So the extent of the infection and the severity of your signs and symptoms determine the course of treatment your doctor would recommend for you.
Urgent treatment is needed when drugs or home remedies have failed to resolve symptoms, or if the infection has spread to the head or neck, or when breathing becomes difficult. Then the doctor would place a tube through your mouth or via an incision in your neck into your throat to keep air flowing in.
Medicines that cure tooth abscess
Antibiotics are prescribed if the abscess is localized to tooth alone. They help to stop the growth of the offending bacteria and kill them as well.
Common antibiotics your doctor would prescribe penicillin, metronidazole, azithromycin, or amoxicillin-clavulanate.
Can You Save an Abscessed Tooth?
It depends on the severity of the infection. If the infection is not spread to root of the teeth then doctor will drain out the infection and fill the gap with dental fillings. If the infection has spread beyond then the tooth will have to be extracted to avoid further complications.
Who are More Prone to Abscess Tooth?
- Anyone who avoid getting treated for a cracked, chipped and deep cavities.
- People with diabetes and who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation cancer treatment
- People with weak immune system, auto-immune diseases are also at the risk.
Tooth abscess is an infection of teeth and surrounding structures with a collection of pus inside it. You could have an abscessed tooth and show no symptoms at all or you could experience symptoms like pain and swelling in the affected area and jaw.
Factors which lead to infection and abscess formation are high sugar diet, coffee, dehydration, tooth injury, smoking, alcohol intake, and poor oral hygiene.
Depending on the severity of damage, you may need just home remedies or dental help. In mild cases, home remedies, surgical drainage of abscess and antibiotics are prescribed. In severe cases where the tooth is extensively damaged, it is totally removed.
Did you find this article helpful? What other ways did you employ to heal your abscessed tooth? Share with us and ask your questions in our comment section.