Is a Tooth Abscess Considered an Emergency?

Is A Tooth Abscess Considered An Emergency?

The simple answer is yes. A tooth abscess is considered a dental emergency. It is important to seek immediate care from an emergency dentist in Perth if you have a tooth abscess, as it can lead to severe complications if not treated promptly.

What Is A Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that results from a bacterial infection. The abscess can occur in different parts of the tooth, and there are mainly two types, which are Tooth and Gum abscesses

What Is Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess, also referred to as a periapical abscess, occurs at the tip of the tooth’s root. Causes of tooth abscesses can include severe tooth decay, a chipped or broken tooth, or a botched previous dental work. Bacteria can enter the tooth through these damaged areas, which can easily cause an infection, resulting in a tooth abscess.

What Is Gum Abscess?

A gum abscess, or periodontal abscess, forms in the gums surrounding a tooth. This type of abscess is often associated with gum disease or injury. Like tooth abscess, it is essential to treat a gum abscess as soon as possible.

When To Seek Emergency Care?

A dental abscess is an emergency. If you suspect you have an abscess, no matter the location, it becomes an emergency, and you should seek emergency dental care immediately. When left untreated, a tooth infection can spread to other parts of your body, making it a serious health issue. If you are wondering when to go to a hospital for a tooth abscess, it is when you experience severe symptoms or cannot see your dentist right away.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Tooth Abscess?

An abscessed tooth presents with specific signs and symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Recognising these symptoms can help you identify the need for immediate dental care. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the signs and symptoms associated with a tooth abscess:

  • Severe, Persistent Toothache: This is the most common symptom of a tooth abscess and the easiest to recognise. The tooth pain can be sharp, gnawing, shooting, or throbbing. It may start suddenly and can radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear.
  • Sensitivity To Temperatures: Affected teeth may become extremely sensitive to hot and cold food and beverages. This can be a jarring sensation that makes eating or drinking uncomfortable.
  • Sensitivity To Pressure: Biting or chewing might become agonising. The affected tooth or the surrounding area may hurt when you put pressure on it.
  • Swelling And Redness: Inflammation might occur in the face or cheek. In some severe cases, this swelling can impede swallowing or even breathing. The gums surrounding the infected tooth may also appear swollen and red.
  • Fever: An elevated body temperature indicates that the body is fighting off an infection. If you have a fever and dental pain, it is a sign that you might have an abscess or another type of dental infection.
  • Foul Taste And Smell: When the abscess leaks or bursts, you may suddenly taste a foul flavour and your breath will also smell foul. This is pus, and you may feel temporary relief from the pain after it bursts. However, the infection is still present and needs treatment nonetheless.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes are small lumps of tissue that contain white blood cells, which fight infection. These can be found under your jaw or in your neck and might become tender and swollen when your body is fighting off an infection.
  • Difficulty Opening The Mouth: In advanced stages, the swelling and pain might make it challenging to fully open the mouth, hindering activities like speaking or eating.
  • Breathing Or Swallowing Difficulties: Though less common, an untreated abscess can lead to swelling that impedes breathing or swallowing.

Should you notice a mix of these indicators, immediately seek dental assistance. They cannot only alleviate your discomfort but also tackle the underlying cause of the abscess, preventing further complications.

Emergency Dentist in Perth, checking for dental abscess

What Makes A Tooth Abscess So Dangerous?

A tooth abscess is dangerous because it is an infection. If not treated, the infection may spread, leading to complications like sepsis, which is life-threatening. Furthermore, an abscessed wisdom tooth or any other tooth can cause complications in neighbouring teeth and the jaw. There is also the risk of tooth loss. Hence, dealing with tooth pain and recognising tooth abscess symptoms early is essential.

What Are The Treatment Options For A Tooth Abscess?

Treatment options for a tooth abscess include:

  • Draining the abscess: Your dentist may make a small cut into the abscess to drain the pus. This provides relief from pain.
  • Root canal treatment: The root canal procedure helps in getting rid of the infection and saving the tooth. The dentist will drill down into the tooth, remove the diseased central tissue, and drain the abscess. They will then fill and seal the tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals.
  • Tooth extraction: If the tooth cannot be saved, your dentist might have to extract the tooth and then drain the abscess.
  • Antibiotics: If the infection is limited to the abscessed area, you might not need antibiotics. But if it has spread to nearby teeth or other areas, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics to stop it.


Leaving an abscess untreated can lead to more significant complications, both within the mouth and throughout the body. If you suspect you have an abscess or any dental issue, it is always best to consult your dentist or contact our friendly staff at My Emergency Dentist for immediate dental care.

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