We moved down the street! See You at our new location: 8401 University Executive Park Dr., Suite 120, Charlotte, NC 28262. Call now to schedule an appointment
Contact us

Dental Abscess Self-Care

a man suffering from toothache

A dental abscess is a painful situation. It's a localized infection at the root of a tooth or in the gum tissue surrounding it, filled with pus. While unpleasant, dental abscess self-care can provide temporary relief while you seek professional dental help, which is crucial for complete healing.

This article explores dental abscess self-care methods, emphasizes the importance of professional treatment, and offers additional information to manage this dental issue.

Understanding Dental Abscesses

Dental abscesses arise from bacterial infections in the mouth. These bacteria can enter the tooth pulp (the inner layer) through a cavity, cracked tooth, gum disease, or even dental procedures. As the bacteria multiply, they create pus, causing inflammation, pain, and swelling.

There are two main types of dental abscesses:

  • Periapical Abscess: This type forms at the tip of the tooth root.
  • Periodontal Abscess: This one develops in the gum tissue next to an infected tooth.

Symptoms of a Dental Abscess

Common symptoms of a dental abscess include:

  • Throbbing toothache, often severe and worsening at night
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Swollen, red, and tender gums
  • Facial swelling
  • Loose tooth
  • Pus drainage from the abscess
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

Dental Abscess Self-Care Measures

While dental abscess self-care cannot cure the infection, it can offer temporary relief from symptoms while you wait for professional dental treatment. Here are some strategies to consider:

Pain Relief

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help manage the discomfort. Important Note: Always follow the dosage instructions on the label and consult your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions.

Warm Saltwater Rinses

Dissolve half a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of lukewarm water. Gently swish for at least 30 seconds, then expel the solution. Repeat this soothing rinse throughout the day. The warm salt water can help ease inflammation and wash away irritants around the abscessed tooth.

Cold Compress

To soothe swelling and ease pain, hold a cold compress wrapped in a thin cloth against your cheek near the abscessed tooth. Apply it for 15 minutes at a time, followed by breaks to prevent skin irritation. Repeat this process as needed.

Maintain Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial even while dealing with a dental abscess. Gently brush and floss your teeth twice daily, taking care to avoid the abscessed area directly to prevent further irritation. Remember, consistent oral hygiene practices help reduce the overall bacterial load in your mouth, promoting healing and preventing the spread of infection.

Dietary Adjustments

Opt for soft foods that are easier to chew and avoid sugary or acidic foods that can irritate the abscess. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

  • Opt for Soft Foods: Choose soft, easily chewable foods like mashed potatoes, yogurt, applesauce, and soups. This minimizes pressure on the abscessed tooth and discomfort while eating.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins and promotes healing. Aim for eight glasses of water daily.


Prop yourself up with extra pillows while you sleep. This elevates your head and helps reduce pressure on the abscessed tooth, leading to less swelling and discomfort.

Clove Oil

Clove oil possesses natural numbing properties. Dilute a few drops of clove oil with a carrier oil like olive oil and apply a small amount to a cotton swab. Dab the outside of your cheek near the affected tooth, avoiding direct contact with the gums.

Lifestyle Modifications

While dealing with a dental abscess, consider these lifestyle adjustments:

  • Rest: Getting adequate sleep promotes healing and helps your body fight off the infection.
  • Reduce Stress: Increased stress levels can worsen pain symptoms. Incorporate relaxation methods such as deep breathing exercises or meditation into your routine to manage stress effectively.
  • Avoid Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking and alcohol consumption can hinder healing and worsen the infection.

Importance of Professional Dental Treatment

Dental abscess self-care is just a temporary solution. A dental abscess is a serious infection that requires professional treatment to remove the infection and prevent complications. Here's why seeking professional help is crucial:

  • Antibiotics: Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to combat the bacterial infection. These antibiotics will help clear the infection completely, which home remedies cannot achieve.
  • Drainage: In some cases, your dentist may need to drain the pus from the abscess to relieve pressure and promote healing.
  • Root Canal Therapy: If the dental pulp becomes infected, a root canal may be necessary. This procedure removes the infected pulp and preserves the tooth.
  • Tooth Extraction: In severe cases where the tooth is extensively damaged or the infection cannot be controlled, tooth extraction may be necessary.

Long-Term Complications of Untreated Dental Abscesses

a man holding his cheek due to tooth pain

Ignoring a dental abscess can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Spread of Infection: The infection can spread to your jawbone, sinuses, brain, and even your bloodstream, leading to life-threatening conditions.
  • Bone Loss: An untreated abscess can damage the bone surrounding the tooth.
  • Loss of Teeth: If the infection is severe or left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
  • Heart Problems: Studies suggest a potential link between untreated dental infections and heart problems.

When to See a Dentist Immediately

If you experience any symptoms of a dental abscess, don't delay! Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Facial swelling that spreads rapidly
  • Fever above 102°F (38.9°C)

Preventing Dental Abscesses

The good news is that you can take steps to prevent dental abscesses:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss daily.
  • Regular dental checkups and cleanings: Make it a habit to book routine dental appointments and cleanings (usually recommended every six months) to detect and tackle any potential issues as soon as possible.
  • Treat cavities promptly: Don't neglect cavities. Get them treated as soon as possible to prevent them from progressing into more serious issues.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Limit sugary and processed foods that contribute to plaque buildup.

Don't Let Tooth Pain Take a Bite Out of Your Life

A throbbing toothache and facial swelling are just a few unpleasant symptoms of a dental abscess. While dental abscess self-care can offer temporary relief, seeking professional dental treatment is crucial for complete healing and preventing complications.

At Charlotte Dental Associates, our experienced and compassionate team understands the discomfort a dental abscess can cause. We offer prompt appointments, thorough examinations, and effective treatment options to get you back to feeling your best.

Take control of your oral health and prioritize your well-being. Charlotte Dental Associates is dedicated to providing exceptional dental care and helping you achieve a healthy, pain-free smile.

Schedule a consultation today!


a woman receiving dental care from a dental professional

Self-care for dental abscesses offers temporary relief while seeking professional dental treatment, which is absolutely essential for complete healing. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to prevent complications. By maintaining good oral hygiene, scheduling regular dental checkups, and seeking prompt treatment when symptoms arise, you can minimize your risk of developing a dental abscess and ensure optimal oral health.

Leave Us a Review

starrating 23