What is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess can be an infection inside the tooth, or an infection between the tooth and gum. A tooth abscess can develop as the result of deep decay in a tooth, or following the placement of a deep filling.

A gum abscess tends to be associated with gum disease, where a deep gap develops between the gum and tooth.

Typical treatment length

30 minutes - 2 hours (Dependent on severity and treatment needed)

What to look for

  • Dental abscesses can cause severe and throbbing pain that usually worsens over a few hours
  • The gum around the affected tooth may become swollen and tender
  • As the skin over the abscess becomes inflamed, the face may swell and be painful to touch
  • A high temperature and also feeling unwell
  • In more severe cases, the jaw muscles may spasm and you may have difficulty opening and closing your mouth


Depending on the severity of the infection and the condition of your dentist may recommend either an extraction or root canal treatment. Antibiotics may be given alongside any necessary temporary treatment of the infection.