What to Do If Your Dental Abscess Won't Heal: Next Steps

Brush your teeth every day to maintain good dental hygiene and avoid problems like a dental abscess.

A dental abscess is a swelling that happens when a External link opens in new tab or windowpus pocket forms. These abscesses can be painful and especially aggravating when you're trying to perform routine daily activities like brushing your teeth and eating. If you're dealing with a dental abscess, you likely want to get rid of it ASAP. Keep reading for ways to kick your dental abscess to the curb.


Dental Abscess Home Remedies

There are a few things you can do from the comfort of your home to reduce the pain and swelling of the dental abscess while you wait to be seen by your dentist, including:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water.

  • Make a baking soda rinse. Baking soda has antibacterial properties. Try mixing 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda with 1/2 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Swish the mixture around your mouth for up to five minutes, spit, and repeat until the mixture is gone.

  • A cold compress will help alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Hold the compress against the skin near the affected area in 15-minute intervals.

  • Avoid hot or cold foods.

  • Use the opposite side of your mouth to chew.

  • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush.


Remember, you should only use the above home remedies for pain relief/treatment that works in conjunction with what your dentist prescribes. Dental abscesses often require medical examination, and these home remedies are meant to treat the pain but not necessarily the underlying issue.


Dental Abscess Over-the-Counter Medication

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and any other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications will help you deal with the pain caused by your dental abscess.


Read the instructions on the medication carefully and ensure it doesn’t react with any other medications you’re taking. If you’re unsure, call your dentist or physician.


When to See a Dentist

You should see a dentist immediately after discovering or suspecting you have a dental abscess. Your dentist will confirm whether it is a dental abscess or something more severe and prescribe you the appropriate treatment path.


If left untreated, the infection may spread to your jaw and other parts of the neck and head, including the brain. In some cases, an abscessed tooth can lead to External link opens in new tab or windowsepsis — a life-threatening complication stemming from an infection.


Some dental abscesses will drain on their own. When this happens, you still must follow up with your dentist to ensure the infection does not spread to another area.


When an abscess ruptures, you will notice near-immediate pain relief and an unpleasant taste in your mouth suddenly as the pus drains out.


Dental treatment for a dental abscess focuses on clearing up the infection and relieving the associated pain. There are a few treatment options, depending on the severity of your case, including:

  • Having your abscess drained by your dentist.

  • A root canal.

  • Tooth extraction.

  • Antibiotics. If the infection spreads past the abscessed tooth or you have a weakened immune system, your dentist may prescribe oral antibiotics to help with clearing up the infection.

  • Foreign object removal. If a foreign object in your gums is causing your dental abscess, your dentist will remove it and clean the area with a saline solution.


Warning Signs That Show a Bigger Problem

You should go to the emergency room if any of the following accompanies your abscessed tooth:

  • High fever.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

  • Facial swelling.

  • Rapid heart rate.

  • Confusion.


Preventing the Dental Abscess from Returning

Practicing good oral hygiene habits and regularly seeing your dentist for checkups every six months, and you will significantly reduce your chance of an abscessed tooth returning.


Are you dealing with a dental abscess? Contact North Pole Dental Workshop today! Our experienced team is trained in everything from dental abscess treatment, checkups, and teeth cleanings to root canals, dentures, and External link opens in new tab or windowemergency dental services. We are Alaska's choice for dental care. Come find out why!