What Causes a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is a severe infection that can lead to serious consequences if left untreated. It forms when bacteria finds a way into the pulp of a tooth, its sensitive inner layer. Early warning signs can include tooth sensitivity, a severe toothache, fever, or swelling around your cheek and jaw. It’s also possible to have an abscess without experiencing noticeable pain.

Potential Causes

There are a few factors that can make you more susceptible to developing a dental abscess:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Bacteria naturally builds up in the mouth throughout the day. Poor dental hygiene allows bacteria to grow unchecked. Be sure to brush twice a day for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Remember to brush your tongue! Additionally, floss every day to remove food particles and bacteria from between your teeth and from under your gums.

Poor Diet

A diet high in sugar, simple carbohydrates, and starch encourages the growth of bacteria and increases your risk of dental disease. Tobacco and alcohol use can also decrease your body’s ability to fight off infection in your mouth. Do your best to eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, avoid tobacco products, and consume treats and alcohol in moderation.

Tooth Injuries

Cracks or chips in your teeth can create an entry point for bacteria. Wear a snug-fitting mouthguard when playing contact sports and a nightguard if you struggle with nighttime teeth grinding and clenching. In addition, do not open packaging with your teeth or chew on ice, hard candy, or writing utensils.

Possible Complications

It’s critical to seek treatment quickly for an abscess.

Tooth Loss

An untreated infection will damage the structures that support your tooth, loosening it over time until it either falls out or must be extracted. Missing teeth can be associated with increased tooth decay, shifting of neighboring teeth, jawbone shrinkage, malnutrition, anxiety, and depression.


Infection can also spread throughout your body. Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of infection when your body launches an extreme immune response to the bacteria. This condition is characterized by widespread inflammation and organ failure, which can be fatal.

Comprehensive Dental Care in Austin, TX

Maintaining superb oral health habits at home and keeping up with routine care at Southwest Smiles will reduce your risk of developing dental disease. Our office also provides a range of treatment options to restore your teeth and gums to full health. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive dental services!

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