Will a tooth infection go away on its own?

A tooth infection will not go away on its own. Your toothache may stop if an infection causes the pulp inside your tooth to die. The pain stops because the nerve isn’t functioning anymore, so you may not be able to feel it. However, the bacteria will continue to spread and destroy surrounding tissue. If you have tooth infection symptoms, see your dentist even if you no longer have pain.

How is an abscessed tooth treated?

Goals of treatment are to eliminate the infection and prevent complications. Treatment options include:

  • Incision and drainage: Your dentist makes a small incision (cut) in the abscess to drain the pus. Sometimes a small rubber drain is placed to keep the area open for drainage.
  • Root canal: This option helps to eliminate the infection and save your tooth. This common procedure removes the tooth’s infected inner pulp, and fills the space with material to prevent another infection. The inner pulp is important when the tooth is growing but once it’s mature, the tooth can survive without the pulp. After the procedure, your tooth should be back to normal, though you may need a crown to protect the root canal. If you care for the restored tooth properly, it can last a lifetime.
  • Tooth extraction: Sometimes the tooth cannot be saved, and your dentist may need to pull or extract the tooth allowing pus to drain from the socket.
  • Antibiotics: If the infection is limited to the abscessed area, you many not require antibiotics, but sometimes your dentist may recommend them to assist with your dental treatment. It is important to know, that while this medication may help fight off remaining bacteria, it will not get rid of the cause of the infection, which is the affected tooth.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/24/2020.

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