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Periapical Abscess

By

Bernard J. Hennessy

, DDS, Texas A&M University, College of Dentistry

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
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GET THE QUICK FACTS

A periapical abscess is a collection of pus at the root of a tooth, usually caused by an infection that has spread from a tooth to the surrounding tissues.

The body attacks an infection with large numbers of white blood cells. Pus is the accumulation of these white blood cells, dead tissue, and bacteria. Sometimes, pus from a tooth infection spreads from the root tip through the bone into the gums so the gums swell near the root of the tooth. The swelling from the pus is often the cause of intense constant pain that worsens when chewing. Depending on the location of the tooth, the infection may spread further into soft tissues (cellulitis Cellulitis Cellulitis is a spreading bacterial infection of the skin and the tissues immediately beneath the skin. This infection is most often caused by streptococci or staphylococci. Redness, pain, and... read more Cellulitis ), causing swelling in the jaw, into the floor of the mouth, or in the area of the cheeks. Eventually, the tissue may break open, allowing the pus to drain. Infections that spread to affect the airway can be serious and even life threatening.

Dentists treat an abscess immediately to minimize chances of dangerous spread of infection by draining the pus, which requires oral surgery to remove the tooth or root canal treatment Root canal treatment and tooth extraction Cavities are decayed areas in the teeth, the result of a process that gradually dissolves a tooth’s hard outer surface (enamel) and progresses toward the interior. (See also Overview of Tooth... read more Root canal treatment and tooth extraction . Antibiotics help eliminate the infection, but removing the diseased pulp and draining the pus are more important.

More Information

The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

  • Mouth Healthy: This general resource provides information on oral health, including nutrition and guidance on selecting products that carry the American Dental Association's seal of approval. There is also advice on finding a dentist and how and when to see one.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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Introduction to Periodontal Diseases
Which of the following is the main cause of tooth loss in older people? 
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