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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 usually noticed.

When the infection is left untreated for a prolonged period and allowed to spread, the situation can escalate and be more difficult to control. 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 affect the airway and become life-threatening. Finally, further complication and spread of the infection throughout the body (sepsis) can occur.

Are home remedies effective for an abscessed tooth?

Generally, home remedies are not advised for an abscessed tooth. Home remedies can be used to alleviate symptoms such as warm water rinses/warm compresses 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 avoiding 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.

Medically reviewed by Kenneth Rotskoff, MD, DDS; Board Certified Dentistry, Oral/Maxillofacial Surgery


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 10/6/2014


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