Life Threatening Dental Emergency


An untreated dental abscess can be a life threatening dental emergency.

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a pocket of pus that develops from a bacterial infection

Signs of a dental abscess

  • Facial swelling
  • Throbbing pain
  • Pimple on gum near tooth
  • High fever
  • Feeling unwell

What causes an abscess to appear?

  • An abscess results when bacteria enters the pulp chamber of a tooth from a deep cavity
  • Past or recent trauma to a tooth
  • Bacterial infection in a deep pocket surrounding the gum of a tooth


While antibiotics may control the infection, the cause of the infection which could be either the tooth or the gum, needs to be removed or an abscess will return.

Tooth abscess

To save an abscessed tooth, the tooth will require root canal treatment. This treatment involves removing the infected nerve tissue and sealing the canals where the nerve once was.

If this option is not suitable or your tooth is no longer restorable it will need to be removed.

Gum abscess

To resolve a gum abscess, cleaning of the deep pockets surrounding a tooth and possible surgery will be required.

This option may not be possible if the gum disease is too advanced and there is minimal bone support remaining. In this situation the tooth will need to be removed.

Life threatening risk

The infection from an untreated abscess becomes dangerous when it spreads along the jaw, neck, heart and to the brain or if sepsis is developed. A rare danger can include the closing of airways leading to suffocation.

How to avoid a dental abscess?

You can greatly reduce your risk of a dental abscess by taking care of your oral health with good dietary habits, oral hygiene routines and attending regularly for examinations and cleaning.