Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

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
Click here for the Professional Version
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), 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. 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
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
TOP