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Living with a toothache can be a horrible experience. All you want is for the problem to go away on its own, but it only gets worse the more you wait. Sometimes that pain can stem from a tooth infection that’s slowly spreading throughout the rest of your teeth and tissue. Your best option is to see a dentist right away, so it doesn’t get worse. However, you may be wondering how to differentiate a cavity or wisdom tooth pain from an abscessed tooth. We’ll cover all the indicators of an infected tooth and what to do next: 

What Is an Abscessed Tooth? 

An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus that can form in different areas of the teeth or mouth due to a bacterial infection. If left untreated, it can spread to surrounding teeth, gums, tissues, and bones. 

What Causes an Abscess?

While the outside of your tooth is hard, the inside is a complex make-up of nerves, tissue, and blood vessels. The pulp of your tooth can often be the source of infection. Many indicators that can result in the abscess forming:

  • Deep cavities 
  • Tooth decay
  • Cracked tooth
  • Gum disease 

When Is an Abscess Considered an Emergency?

As the pus builds up, it can create a high level of intense pain and swelling. The swelling can get so enlarged that it can block airways, radiate to your ear or neck, and make you very ill. Performing any sort of activity, such as talking, chewing, swallowing, etc., can be extremely difficult when dealing with an abscess. Most people notice that something is wrong when they feel sharp pains in the infected area.


There are many symptoms involved that can indicate whether or not your tooth is abscessed and classified as a dental emergency:

  • Swelling 
  • Pain
  • Cavities 
  • Gum inflammation 
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Vomiting 
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing 
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • An odour from the tooth 

How To Prevent/Treat an Abscess

You are more susceptible to having these kinds of issues if you aren’t practicing good oral hygiene or taking care of your health properly. There are simple steps you can follow to keep your mouth healthy.


  • See a dentist regularly. Getting check-ups and cleanings done routinely will help in preventing any further infections.
  • Brush your teeth consistently and floss those hard-to-reach places. 
  • Limit your sugar intake. A diet consisting of sugary foods or beverages can help bacteria grow.
  • Make an appointment as soon as a problem arises. 


A dentist might recommend a few different options in treating an abscess depending on the severity of the tooth:

  • Antibiotics. The infection might be so severe that it spreads past the abscess site.
  • Surgery to drain the abscess.
  • Extraction of the tooth may be necessary if it can’t be saved.
  • Root canals are effective in treating an abscess. Your tooth will be drilled, your pulp and root canals will be cleaned out. You will then receive a filling or a crown to fill the hole.

Don’t neglect any pain that you may be dealing with. Your local and trustworthy emergency dentist in Edmonton is waiting for you. They will take care of any dental-related concerns or issues you may have. Maintain that beautiful smile of yours and contact us today.