How is an abscessed tooth treated?

The goals of treatment for an abscessed tooth are to eliminate the infection, preserve the tooth, and prevent complications.

To eliminate infection, the abscess may need to be drained. Drainage may be done through the tooth by a procedure known as a root canal. The tooth may also be extracted (pulled), allowing drainage through the socket. Finally, a third way to drain the abscess would be by incision (cutting) into the swollen gum tissue. Antibiotics are prescribed to help fight the infection.

To preserve the tooth, root canal surgery may be recommended to remove any diseased root tissue, and a crown may be placed over the tooth. Sometimes the affected tooth may need to be removed.

To relieve the pain and discomfort of an abscessed tooth, you can use warm salt water rinses and over-the-counter pain-reducing medication like ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®).

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