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What is abscess drainage?

A dental abscess is an infection of the mouth, face, jaw, or throat that begins as a tooth infection. The original cause may be from a deep cavity, periodontal (gum) disease, a cracked tooth, trauma, or sometimes even due to recent dental procedures such as extractions and implants. Most infections are more likely to have been caused by poor dental health. Abscesses can also occur from previously performed dental procedures as they get older and start to leak and fail. Often one or more teeth will be very sensitive to pressure.

Why do abscesses need to be drained?

If it remains untreated long enough, infection from an abscess can spread through the bone and damage adjacent teeth, which would require additional treatment. Infection can in some cases even spread beyond the teeth and bone through the bloodstream to other areas of the body, where it can damage organs and even be life-threatening.

What is involved in draining an abscess?

We can determine by physical examination if there is a drainable abscess. X-rays of the mouth may be necessary to show small abscesses located in the deepest part of the tooth. For an acute dental abscess, the dentist may incise and drain the abscess and/or try therapy with antibiotics. Abscesses that are eminently life-threatening may require hospital admission. Pain medication is commonly prescribed until the symptoms can be controlled. These initial measures are often necessary to temporarily relieve the signs and symptoms of an acute abscess. But further treatment directed at eliminating the primary source of the infection is vital to prevent recurrence. The location of this primary source determines treatment options, which may include root canal therapy, periodontal treatment, or extraction of the tooth.