When bacteria are able to get inside and infect the interior of the tooth, an endodontic abscess can form, in the bone around the roots, full of infected pus. Sometimes, there are few symptoms of an endodontic abscess, but patients commonly suffer one or more of the following:

  • Pain from biting
  • Swelling
  • Bad taste in the mouth

The bacteria can get into the tooth’s pulp through cracks, fractures, or tooth injuries. Once it gets inside, it can move deeper into the root canals until it reaches the very tip of the root.

There are two types of abscess. Acute abscesses start very quickly, resulting in large obvious areas of swelling that can become life threatening if not treated quickly. Chronic abscesses are long standing infections that form a sinus tract, a sort of pressure release valve near the tooth, where the infection drains into the mouth. These abscesses are usually painless and the only thing you might see is a small bump on the gums next to the tooth.

Antibiotics are typically the first step in treating an endodontic abscess, as they can limit the infection and keep it from spreading. They cannot cure the condition, however. There are several possible root canal therapies to treat an endodontic abscess. Your endodontist will talk to you about the options available and work with you to determine the best choice of treatment that is most likely to be effective in the long run.

Any time you think you may have an endodontic abscess, it’s important to get it checked out right away. If you’re in the Richmond, VA area, contact the endodontic specialists at East Coast Endodontics.

About the Author

Dr. Harris has been a practicing dentist since 2005. In 2012, he received his Master’s of Science in Dentistry and a certificate in Endodontics. He founded East Coast Endodontics shortly after receiving his master’s degree. He also currently holds a part-time position as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Endodontics department at Virginia Commonwealth University. View his full bio.