The Trouble with Tooth Abscesses

From stains to cavities, your teeth can go through a lot in a lifetime. When a tooth is cracked or infected, it can sometimes develop an abscess, or pocket of pus, on its root. The trouble with tooth abscesses is that they can make restorative treatment more difficult than usual. When one develops, the symptoms can include fever and swelling around the tooth, as well as severe levels of pain and sensitivity, and treating the condition is the only way to relieve the discomfort.

What Causes an Abscess to Form?

Tooth abscesses are pockets of infected material that are most often a result of an internal tooth infection (also known as tooth decay). If you leave a cavity untreated for long enough, then the decay that caused it will continue working its way towards your tooth’s center chamber (pulp). From the pulp, the infectious bacteria can travel through the connected root canal, and in severe cases, an abscess can form on the root, threatening the surrounding gum tissues and jawbone. Damage such as cracks, fractures, and breaks can also expose your tooth’s interior to oral bacteria, and facilitate a tooth abscess’ formation much faster.

How to Treat It

To treat a tooth abscess, root canal therapy is often the most effective method, allowing your dentist or oral surgeon to drain the pocket, then clear the tooth’s root and inner structure of infection. In complex cases, you may need the expertise of an oral surgeon to carefully pierce the abscess and drain it without causing collateral damage to your gums and jawbone. If the infection is extensive enough that the tooth can’t be saved, then extracting the tooth could be the only way to prevent the bacteria from spreading.


Shawn Hofkes, DDS, is highly qualified to address complex issues, including the diagnosis and treatment of destructive gum disease. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today by calling 562-584-4082. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.