Abscessed Tooth Guide (cont.)

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What is the prognosis for an abscessed tooth?

The prognosis depends on the extent of the spread of infection. Usually, when the infection is localized to the tooth, the prognosis is very good if treatment is sought as soon as signs and symptoms are noticed.

If left unchecked and untreated, the infection may be more difficult to control and serious health complications could occur. There is the danger that the infection could rapidly spread to the bone of the jaw and other spaces of the head and neck. The swelling in the jaw or neck could even be so great as to block the airway and be life-threatening. Finally, there is risk of further complication and spread of the infection throughout the body (sepsis). In these situations, medical care at a hospital is required.

Are home remedies effective for an abscessed tooth?

Generally, home remedies are not advised for an abscessed tooth. Home remedies can be used to temporarily alleviate symptoms such as warm saltwater or baking soda rinses, a warm moistened teabag compress over the area and taking over-the-counter medications for pain relief. However, the infection will still progress if not properly treated. Furthermore, avoiding treatment can lead to more serious complications. Seeking care and advice from a dental professional is strongly recommended as soon as possible.

Can an abscessed tooth be prevented?

Good home-care habits and regular dental visits can play a big role in preventing an abscessed tooth. Time is also a big factor in whether a tooth is allowed to reach the point of infection. The longer the tooth sits with a problem, the higher chance that infection can occur and spread to become an abscess. Once a decayed, fractured, or sensitive tooth is noticed, taking the preventive steps to fix it early will help prevent bigger problems such as an abscessed tooth.


Burns, Richard C. and Stephen Cohen (Eds.). Pathways of the Pulp, 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: The C.V. Mosby Company, 1980.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/12/2016

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