I think I’ve got an abscess in my mouth! What do I do now?

26th April 2022 | Posted by: Vanessa Giraud

woman in dental chair with abscess in mouth

Have you woken up to throbbing pain and a swollen face?

Or have you got a raised lump on your gum that hurts? Perhaps you feel like you’ve got a temperature too?

Getting an abscess is hard, as it can cause swelling and pain. You may be able to reduce the pain temporarily, but it must be checked as infection can spread.

Be especially careful of infection if you have other issues, such as a heart condition or diabetes. If your dentist is not available, check NHS 111 online to find out where the nearest emergency dental facility is.

An abscess is a condition that needs treatment. It’s likely that a health professional will prescribe antibiotics for you until a dental appointment is available.

How do I know if it is an abscess in my mouth?

If you’re experiencing throbbing pain in your mouth, and there’s swelling, then the chances are you have an abscess in your mouth. An oral abscess is a pocket of pus caused by bacterial infection. It’s painful and needs treatment.

What do I do now?

The first thing to do is get professional help. An abscess won’t go away without treatment. During the practice’s opening hours, your dentist should be able to fit you in for an emergency appointment the same day, but call early as the spaces soon fill up. Practices usually have special arrangements too for patients who need treatment out of hours. If you subscribe to a monthly payment plan with your dental practice, that usually covers emergency call-out charges too. Even out of hours, it’s a good idea to call your own practice, as the answer phone will offer helpful information. Remember – if you have swelling that is continuing to increase and threatens your breathing, treat it as a dental emergency. Because an abscess is a bacterial infection, it’s important to get it seen as soon as possible so that treatment can begin. Don’t be tempted to delay, take a few pain-killers, and hope it’ll go away.

Why do abscesses happen?

There are several reasons why you may have got an abscess in your mouth. Most often it’s a sign your oral care isn’t meeting your needs. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about that, as people need different levels of oral hygiene according to the condition of their dental enamel and their general health. That said, we should all maintain a minimum regime of brushing for two minutes last thing at night, and at one other time during the day, as well as a daily floss. Because an abscess occurs when bacteria penetrate the pulp of a tooth (periapical abscess) or colonise the margins between the tooth and gum (periodontal abscess):

What will my dentist do next?

abscess in my mouth treated according to this diagram of four stages of endodontic treatment

Root canal therapy can often save an infected tooth.

Your dentist will clear the infection by draining the abscess, and may prescribe a course of appropriate antibiotics. Moving forward, sometimes the tooth can be saved with root canal therapy. In some cases, however, removing the tooth is the only safe option.

As everyone has individual dental needs, your dentist is the best person to assess the condition of your teeth and gums, plan your treatment, and restore your oral health.

Will I lose my tooth?

In some cases an extraction is the most straightforward solution. Your dentist will always take times to discuss your options with you.

“Abscess in gum above loose crown: Saw my dentist after I developed an abscess in my gum above a loose crown which had an infection in the root! Had my crown and tooth pulled out with a squirt of anaesthetic and I hardly felt it had been done! Had hardly any bleeding and no pain afterwards, a brilliant job done!” JJ – a SpaDental Plymouth patient

If you do need to have an extraction, your dentist will let you know how the gap can be replaced by either a fixed or removable restoration, such as a bridge, a denture or an implant, depending on each individual case.

Why are dental checks important?

Surprisingly, knowing how painful an abscess can be, in some cases it is possible to be unaware that you have a dental abscess. Sometimes an abscess is only spotted by a dentist in an x-ray. Left untreated the abscess can go on to cause further infections. Regular visits to the dentist will help you to maintain optimum oral health. During every check up, your dentist will do a systematic review of your mouth, looking for any signs of dental decay, gum disease or ulcerations. Check-ups are the way to keep dentally fit with individually tailored and monitored care.

How do I stop an abscess happening again?

To prevent another dental abscess, it’s important to review your oral hygiene practices. Your dentist and dental hygienist can help put you back on track to improved oral health. Many dental practices offer patients the opportunity to pay for regular check-ups and hygiene appointments on a monthly basis. It’s worth finding out how to become a plan patient as many people, especially those who avoid dentists, find that if they make the financial investment they are more likely to attend regular appointments.

People also ask:


SpaDental Glastonbury patient appreciation

A Pleasant Experience @ Spa Dental Glastonbury "Friendly staff. This was my first visit to this dental practice and found the staff very friendly and reassuring. I had an initial assessment by the therapist who did an assessment prior to my next appointment. He was very good and explained carefully the treatment I needed in a professional manner! Overall I was impressed by the whole experience." "I went in today for a tooth extraction, my…

More Testimonials

Top Class Dentistry at SpaDental Whitchurch

"Better than you could ever imagine - As always everyone involved with Spadental treats you with respect and dignity. Happy to have a friendly chat and always seem genuinely interested. I always leave the practice feeling happy- which might seem strange after just having dental treatment but that's the affect all the team always seem to have on me. Arranged a follow up appointment the very next day, as a cancellation had just come in.…

More Testimonials

SpaDental Chard - patients' compliments

"Lovely staff - I have been with you for 17 years and I am still coming to you. Every one is so helpful and always talks to you." LE Thank you for your reviews The staff at SpaDental Chard feel proud to read your reviews. Your lovely comments, and  your good opinion mean a lot to us. We appreciate the time and thought you put into writing about how your visit to the dentist went.…

More Testimonials

SpaDental Chard - thank you for your kind support

It hasn't been an easy year, but our patients have been so understanding. Thank you all so very much for your kind support and the lovely feedback we've received. Your kind support is very motivating It means a lot to the SpaDental Chard team to read your feedback. Your feedback is important to us as it helps us work on continual improvement of our services. Our sincere thanks to all of you have taken the…

More Testimonials

SpaDental Whitchurch - your understanding is appreciated!

We've been catching up with our patients to find out how their treatment has been over the last months. This has been such a hard year for many of us, personally and professionally, and access to dental care has been affected in many ways by the pandemic. We'd really like to take this opportunity, therefore, to thank you for your understanding. We know that you have had to cope with cancellations and changes to our…

More Testimonials

SpaDental Tewkesbury reviews - thank you!

With the ups and downs of the last year, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of our patients for your support and understanding. Your thoughtfulness is reflected in the considerate comments we've received in response to our request for feedback. We truly appreciate your kind thoughts. Thank you from all of us for your lovely reviews of SpaDental Tewkesbury. A selection of your reviews: "The service during the last few months has…

More Testimonials

SpaDental Whitchurch dentist "kind and gentle"

SpaDental Whitchurch dentist is accepting new private patients. A new patient testimonial After the closure of my local dentist in Whitchurch I telephoned Spa Dental who made me an appointment. Unfortunately I had an abscess on my tooth before my appointment date, for which I was given an emergency appointment.   I am a very nervous patient and it took a long time to build confidence with my old dentist , therefore my nerves were bad and I…

More Testimonials

Plymouth dentists "excellent care" and "professional service"

Kind words from our patients mean a lot to us. Thank you! We're very happy to read reviews that commend the  Plymouth team and the dentists "excellent care" and "professional service". Recent patient reviews commend our excellent care: "In safe and caring hands - Without exception the treatment I have received has been outstanding. From the reception staff through each of the individuals involved, their focus is on you and you're fully involved in any…

More Testimonials

Fantastic Saltash patient reviews - thank you!

We very much enjoyed reading the lovely Saltash patient reviews we've received in response to our recent request for feedback. On behalf of all the staff, thank you so much for your lovely comments. We sincerely appreciate your kind words, and will also use your recommendations in our planning. SpaDental considers your review comments carefully. We read them all, and use the information we gather to guide our practice so we can keep on improving…

More Testimonials

Thank you for SpaDental Chard patient reviews

A very appreciative thank you to our patients from the clinicians and staff at SpaDental Chard. It has been a pleasure reading your comments because if our patients are happy, then we're happy. Feedback about the team and treatment from SpaDental Chard reviews "Everyone in the practice is efficient, professional and knowledgeable." - HCG  "5 Star Dental Care - Being in the centre of Chard, [the SpaDental] surgery is easily accessible for most patients. The…

More Testimonials