Wisdom Tooth Abscess – Signs, Causes, and Treatments

by | Feb 19, 2021 | General Dentistry

Dental patient

You may have heard the term ‘wisdom tooth abscess’ but what exactly is it, how is it caused, and more importantly, what’s involved in the treatment?

An abscess is a painful condition that occurs when pus resulting from an infection, accumulates in the pulp or centre of a tooth. In the case of wisdom teeth that get stuck in the gum (impaction) the abscess may be present between the tooth and the flap of gum tissue that’s covering it.


Wisdom Tooth Abscess – What Causes It? 

By their very nature, wisdom teeth are particularly prone to abscesses. Because wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to come through, often there isn’t room in the mouth to accommodate them. As a result, they sometimes get stuck or impacted in the gums or come through misaligned, making it difficult to reach and clean them. Impaction and poor oral health can both lead to an abscess.


How to Know if Your Wisdom Tooth is Abscessed?

If your oral health isn’t good or you have bad breath, you could have a wisdom tooth abscess. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain when eating
  • Throbbing pain near the tooth
  • Swollen, red gums
  • Facial redness or swelling
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain radiating to your ear, neck or jaw

So now you know the symptoms to be aware of but what you might not know is that a wisdom tooth abscess should also be treated as a dental emergency. Yes, really!

causes wisdom tooth abscess chatswood

Why a Wisdom Tooth Abscess is a Dental Emergency?

Not only is an abscess painful but it can be dangerous which is why it’s regarded as a dental emergency. Without prompt treatment, the infection will continue to advance and may spread to other parts of the body. In the worst-case scenario, an abscess can cause infection in the bloodstream and cause Sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition. If you’re worried that you may have a wisdom tooth abscess, then don’t delay. Call a dentist who can deal with a dental emergency the same day.


So, What Are the Treatment Options?

Here are 3 treatments our dentist may suggest:


Drain the Abscess 

Provided the infection is limited to a single area the dentist can open up the abscess, drain it, and rinse it with a saline solution. This will rid the area of the infection.



Once the infection has progressed to a certain point, drainage may not be an option. More invasive measures may be necessary to prevent the infection spreading and in some cases, tooth extraction may be necessary. Antibiotics and pain medication may also be necessary to treat the infection.



If the wisdom tooth is damaged or it’s likely an infection will recur, the best course of action is wisdom tooth removal.


How to Avoid a Wisdom Tooth Abscess?

Maintain good oral health with daily brushing and flossing and regular dental check-ups and cleans with your dentist.

If you think you might have an abscessed wisdom tooth we can help. Dr Meng Quah-Shepherd heads up an emergency dental team in Chatswood and is highly experienced in wisdom teeth removal. We also offer IV sedation for a more comfortable procedure.

Call today on (02) 9054 5281.