How to treat a tooth abscess at home

Discover a comprehensive list of home remedies explaining how to treat a tooth abscess at home. This selection of options will control infection and provide pain relief.

A tooth abscess is not something that anyone wants to experience.

Unfortunately, there are several reasons for an abscessed tooth developing – and when one develops you will need to be pro-active in controlling the infection.

Described below are the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and possible dental abscess treatments you can use.

What Is A Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess or abscessed tooth is an infection that has 3 causes:

  1. tooth decay
  2. cracked tooth
  3. periodontal disease

All of the above issues allow bacteria access to the soft tissue inside your tooth. This tissue contains the blood vessels, sensitive nerves, and connective tissue that keep your teeth healthy.

When bacteria settle into the dental pulp pus forms and builds up in the affected area. When this happens, specifically at the root tip of a tooth situated in the jaw bone, it forms a painful pus-pocket which is an abscess.

If this abscess is not treated, a serious infection in the jaw bone, teeth, and surrounding tissues can develop. This is dangerous to your health and is extremely painful.

What Causes A Dental Abscess?

Everyone’s mouth is a hive of bacteria, this bacteria collects and forms a sticky film on the teeth. This build-up is called plaque.

By brushing and cleaning your teeth regularly you eliminate this build-up and control the bacteria.

If you practice poor mouth hygiene you allow the bacteria to multiply dangerously. The acids produced can cause damage to your teeth and gums in the form of tooth decay and gum disease.

The below points are all contributors to the development of an abscessed tooth:

Sugary Food And Drink

Consuming too much sugar and starch encourages the formation of bacteria in the plaque. This leads to decay and a possible tooth abscess

Bad Oral Hygiene

If you do not brush and floss daily the plaque will build up on your teeth

Weak Immune System

Your immune system can be compromised by diabetes or continued treatment (such as chemotherapy or steroid medication). In this case, the possibility of an infection is increased

Injury To The Mouth

If you have experienced an injury in the mouth this is an opening for bacteria to invade damaged areas

Symptoms Of A Tooth Abscess

There are several symptoms associated with an abscessed tooth. If you are experiencing any one or several of the below symptoms then it is advisable to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Symptoms will start as a severe, persistent, toothache. This pain usually manifests itself as either a sharp, throbbing, or shooting pain.

Symptoms On The Gum:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • open sores
  • pain
  • small bump on the gum anywhere near the infected tooth

Tooth Symptoms:

  • pain when chewing
  • pus in the gums surrounding the infected tooth edges
  • continued hot and cold tooth sensitivity

Additional Abscessed Tooth Symptoms:

  • swelling surrounding the face (ie the jaw or neck glands)
  • very bad breath
  • a bitter taste in the mouth

Can Serious Complications Occur?

Yes, if left untreated there may be some serious repercussions caused by an abscess.

It is imperative that an abscess, however small, be treated by a dentist. Don’t think that an abscess that has burst or ruptured is now ok and on the mend.

The dentist must still make an inspection to ensure that the wound is properly clean so that the infection will not spread in the mouth.

An untreated abscessed tooth can spread infection not only to the gums but affect your jaw and areas on your neck and head. The infection can even spread to the brain on rare occasions.

Sepsis cannot be ruled out in the long term for an untreated abscess either.

Below is a list of very serious side effects of a dental abscess that should never be ignored.

If you are experiencing any of the below in conjunction with an abscess, go to the emergency room immediately:

  • facial swelling
  • high fever
  • confusion
  • difficulty swallowing
  • rapid heart rate

These are all symptoms of a very serious infection that requires immediate treatment.

If You Are Experiencing Dental Abscess Symptoms:

Continue to brush and floss as normal and keep your mouth as clean as possible.

If the abscess stops hurting – do not think that everything is all ok. In most cases, the pain will cease if the tooth root has died.

But this does not mean the infection has also disappeared. The infection can indeed spread to the next tooth that is not 100% healthy.

A visit to the dentist is in order to check that no further treatment is required to avoid another episode.

Abscessed Tooth Diagnosis By Your Dentist

At the dental surgery, your dentist will more than likely do an X-ray.

This will reveal any possible bone loss around the dental root area. This will indicate if there is an infection or abscess.

Other forms of confirmation will include dental nerve stimulation (using warm or cold fluids) and pressure tests on the tooth.

Pain Relief For An Abscessed Tooth

There are a few ways in which you can relieve the pain and discomfort you are experiencing.

Prescription Medication

Taking pain killers is one option available to you.

Ibuprofen is the most commonly prescribed painkiller for a dental abscess. If you cannot take Ibuprofen for medical reasons, then Paracetamol is the next best option.

Aspirin is also used, but should not be taken by children under 16 years of age.

Things To Avoid That Aggravate An Abscess

  • hot or cold food – eat room temperature soft foods on the opposite side of your mouth
  • hot or cold drinks – no fizzy drinks or very hot or cold beverages
  • hard toothbrushes – gently use a soft toothbrush around the affected tooth
  • flossing – avoid flossing the infected area

How To Treat A Tooth Abscess At Home With Simple Ingredients

The treatment of an abscess focuses on relieving the pain and clearing up the infection.

There are many treatment options available that can be effective in treating an abscess. Particularly if you have caught the abscess in its early stages.

Here are several home remedies that show you how to get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist.

Saltwater For Infection In Tooth

Salt water rinse

This is an age-old remedy that is effective, easy, and affordable. Rinse your mouth several times a day with a warm salt water rinse.

The solution has an anti-bacterial effect, promoting wound healing and healthy gums.

This is the most commonly used abscess in mouth home remedy.

To Use A Saltwater Rinse For Tooth Infection:

  • Into 1/2 a cup of warm boiled water mix 1/2 teaspoon of table salt
  • Rinse your mouth swishing it all around the inside of your mouth for a minimum of two minutes
  • Spit the solution out
  • Do this a couple of times
  • Repeat three times a day or more

Baking Soda For Tooth Abscess

Baking soda

Baking soda is another suitable and affordable option for abscessed tooth treatment. It is also something most people have in their kitchen cabinets.

Baking soda is very effective at removing plaque and has excellent antibacterial properties.

How To Use A Baking Soda Remedy:

  • Into 1/2 cup of water add 1/2 a tablespoon of baking soda and a pinch of salt
  • Swirl the solution in your mouth for up to five minutes
  • Spit it out, and repeat until the mixture is finished
  • You can repeat this up to two times a day

Cold Compress Pain Remedy

Cold compress

A cold compress helps reduce pain and swelling on any infection. The cold numbs the pain and suppresses swelling.

To Use A Cold Compress Remedy:

  • Place a couple of ice cubes in a dry towel
  • Hold the towel compress on your skin near the painful area
  • Use at 15-minute intervals
  • Repeat several times per day

Clove Oil For Tooth Abscess

Clove oil

Since ancient times clove oil has been used as a natural toothache remedy. It has good antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

It is available in a concentrated clove essential oil or in a diluted form.

If using the strong essential oil form, you must dilute with 3 to 5 drops of essential oil in an ounce of carrier oil.

How To Use Cloves For Tooth Infection:

  • Place a few drops of diluted clove oil on a cotton ball or swab
  • Apply to the affected area
  • Alternatively, make a clove oil mouthwash
  • Place a few drops of the oil into a small glass of water
  • Swirl in your mouth and spit out
  • Clove oil can be used up to three times daily

Tea Tree Oil For Tooth Abscess

Tea tree oil

Tea tree has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties that will kill bacteria present in your mouth as well as relieve toothache. It is the top remedy for eliminating gum and tooth pain.

Bear in mind that the taste is very strong and can be unpleasant when taken orally, but the benefits outweigh the unsavory taste.

This oil should not be applied in its raw form straight onto gums and teeth as it is very strong. Dilute tea tree oil in coconut oil before application. Coconut oil is also an antibacterial agent.

How To Use A Tea Tree Oil Remedy:

  • Add tea tree oil to a glass of water
  • Use as a mouth rinse
  • Repeat a few times dailyOr
  • Dilute tea tree oil with coconut oil
  • Apply to the inflamed gum on cotton wool
  • Hold there for up to a minute
  • Spit out excess oil

Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme essential oil

Thyme oil is a potent essential oil with many medicinal advantages. Thyme fights bacteria, reduces swelling, and kills parasites.

Just remember to dilute the essential oil into a carrier before using it.

How To Use Thyme For Toothache:

  • Apply diluted thyme oil to the affected area with a cotton ball or swab
  • Or else, make a mouthwash by placing a few drops of diluted thyme oil in a small glass of water
  • Use both methods up to three times per day

Oregano Oil For Tooth Infection

Oregano essential oil

Oregano oil is a useful essential oil for abscessed tooth treatment. It can be purchased in most health food stores or drugstores.

Oregano oil acts as an antibacterial and antioxidant. It helps reduce the pain and swelling of an abscessed tooth.

It is a good idea to dilute any essential oil with a carrier oil to prevent irritation.

Oregano Oil For Gum Infection Remedy:

  • Place a few drops of oregano essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil
  • On a cotton ball or swab add a few drops of the mixture
  • Place or hold the cotton ball for two or 3 minutes on the infected area
  • Remove and leave the mixture on for 10 minutes
  • Rinse and repeat three times daily

Use Garlic For An Abscess Tooth

Garlic

Garlic is a popular and well-known natural remedy also with an ancient history of medicinal use. Among its therapeutic uses are pain relief and bacteria killer.

Very useful for any infection.

To Use Garlic For Tooth Infection:

  • Crushing a fresh clove of garlic and make a paste
  • Rub this paste onto the infected area
  • Repeat several times a day

Fenugreek For Teeth Infections

Fenugreek powder

Fenugreek has a long history of being used in home remedies. It is used for healing wounds and reducing inflammation because of its antibacterial properties.

How To Use Fenugreek Tea:

  • Heat 1 cup of water in a saucepan and stir in 1 teaspoon of ground fenugreek
  • Allow to cool
  • Place a small amount on a cotton ball and apply to the affected area
  • Repeat up to three times a day

Hydrogen Peroxide For Teeth Pain

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent remedy for reducing plaque and bleeding gums as well as fighting a bacterial infection.

Peroxide For Tooth Infection Remedy:

  • Mix equal quantities of water and 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • Swish all around your mouth, then spit out. Do NOT swallow
  • Use multiple times per day

Oil Pulling Remedy For Abscessed Tooth

Oil pulling olive oil

Oil pulling is an ancient method of oral hygiene. It has been used over centuries to treat mouth ailments. The belief behind the process is that oil pulling removes toxins from the gums and teeth.

Studies suggest that oil pulling may benefit:

  • bad breath
  • bleeding gums
  • reduce bad bacteria in the mouth

However, scientific evidence is very thin when it comes to stating its effectiveness in oral health.

Recommended Oils For Oil Pulling:

  • sesame oil
  • raw coconut oil
  • olive oil

It is advisable to perform oil pulling in the morning on an empty stomach.

How To Use An Oil Pulling Remedy:

  • Place 1 tablespoon of the oil of your choice in your mouth
  • Continuously swirl the oil through and around your teeth for a minimum of 20 minutes
  • Spit the used oil out. It is advisable not to spit into your sink or basin as the oil may clog your pipes
  • A suitable outside area is good. Else follow up with boiling water down the plughole where you deposited the oil
  • Do not ever swallow the oil

Tooth Abscess Prevention

The most effective way to prevent a tooth abscess is to visit your dentist regularly. They can monitor any cavities that may be starting and address them immediately.

Some dentists recommend having a radiograph once or twice a year. In this way, they monitor the health of your mandibular and maxillary jawbones for any abnormalities.

To keep a dental abscess at bay, here are some at-home tips you should keep in mind:

  1. Floss or use an interdental brush daily to clean between your teeth and under the gum line
  2. Spend 2 minutes brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day
  3. Do not rinse out your mouth after brushing with water or mouthwash – just spit it out. Rinsing washes away the toothpaste that protects the teeth
  4. Reduce the intake of sugary and starchy food and drinks – especially before bedtime and between meals
  5. Visit your dentist regularly

When To Visit The Doctor

When to visit your doctor

There does come a point when a visit to the dentist or doctor is required.

Home remedies and treatments for an abscessed tooth will only take treatment so far.

You may be lucky and catch the infection early and successfully treat the abscess at home.

But a tooth abscess is a serious infection that could spread if left untreated.

The above treatments can also be used after your dentist or doctor visit.

They will complement any medication or treatment you may have received from a medical professional.

Medical Treatment For Treating A Tooth Abscess

At the dental surgery, there are a number of options that can treat an abscess. The severity of the infection will dictate the treatment received.

Antibiotics

Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic to assist in clearing up the infection. In particular, if you have a poor immune system and if the infection has spread into other areas of the mouth.

Draining The Abscess

To drain the abscess, the dentist will make a small incision in the abscess to allow the pus to drain out. This will be followed by a saline solution to clean the area.

Removing A Foreign Object

Sometimes a foreign object, like a shard of fishbone, may have caused the abscess. The dentist will remove the offending object from your gum and clean the affected area with a saline solution.

Root Canal

A root canal procedure will involve drilling down into the affected tooth in order to drain the abscess and remove any infected pulp. The dentist will then fill the cavity he has created, which has exposed the pulp and the root canal and seal it.

At another appointment, when the first procedure has healed, the tooth will be capped with a crown to protect and strengthen the tooth.

Tooth Extraction

If your tooth is beyond saving as it is too damaged, your dentist may pull the tooth to remove it and drain the abscess.

In Conclusion

Although there are many remedies that explain how to treat a tooth abscess at home, a tooth abscess can be a serious infection.

It is advisable to get to a dentist or doctor for a check-up to ensure that the reason for your infection is sorted out.

Home remedies certainly have their place and can be used at the beginning of an infection and as post-dental aftercare. Both are beneficial.

The best remedy is to look after your teeth properly to avoid a cavity or infection occurring at all. Floss and brush regularly for a good oral hygiene routine.

FAQ’s

What does an abscess on a tooth look like?
A tooth abscess can manifest itself with a pimple near the infected tooth. When this pimple ruptures it is releasing the pus that has built up – this burst pimple is called a “draining fistula”.

Can a tooth abscess go away on its own?
No – a tooth abscess will not go away without treatment. The pain created by the abscess may decrease once the abscess bursts, but you will still require a dental visit. Without draining the infections can ultimately spread to your jaw, neck, and head areas.

What does salt water do for an abscessed tooth?
A saltwater rinse will help remove the bacteria and pus build-up from a tooth abscess. The saltwater properties will soothe and sterilize the affected area but will not be enough to clear the infection without medical help.

Is heat or ice better for abscess tooth?
Cold is definitely better for a tooth abscess. Never use heat as this may draw the infection out and cause more swelling and discomfort. Ice cold temperatures will help numb the pain.

What happens if a tooth abscess bursts?
After an abscess ruptures, you need to treat it to keep the area clean, bacteria-free, and encourage pus drainage. There are several home remedies that you can use in order to this. You can use these remedies both before and after seeing your dentist for treatment.

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