In a healthy mouth with intact teeth, oral bacteria cannot penetrate teeth or gum tissue. But once trauma or tooth decay damages a tooth, oral bacteria can make their way inside that tooth. The same goes for gum damage, such as gum recession. Once oral bacteria gain entry to a tooth or gum, infection sets in. Eventually, a dental abscess forms. This is the beginning of a dental emergency.

If a dental abscess is beginning to form in your mouth, you should consider it a dental emergency for the following reasons.


In the initial stages of an abscess, you might not feel much pain. But the pain will increase as the abscess grows larger. During a gum or tooth infection, bacteria and white blood cells battle each other in the confined space within a tooth or in the gum tissue around a tooth. This results in pus that has nowhere to go. If the pus cannot drain from the infection site, pain and swelling occur.

If you are fortunate, the pus will drain away from the infection site. This will result in less pain and swelling. But if the pus remains trapped at the infection site, you will likely begin to experience severe pain.

The Spread of Infection

When the pus from a tooth abscess drains away from the infection site, it goes to other parts of your body. While your body can get rid of pus, some of that pus could go on to infect other parts of your body. For instance, the infection from a dental abscess can lead to ear, nose, and eye infections. And in a worst-case scenario, the infection can even spread to your brain.

As the infection spreads, the lymph nodes in your neck will begin to swell and you may develop a fever as your body tries to fight off the infection.


If the pus from an abscess is unable to drain away from the site of infection, the area will begin to swell. Depending on the location of the tooth abscess, this swelling could affect your breathing. This happens because some swelling can become so serious that it spreads to the throat, constricting the airways and making breathing difficult.

If your face is beginning to swell up, don't wait for it to become an emergency, seek emergency dental treatment.

Dental abscesses don't always become dental emergencies, but you should seek immediate dental care if you develop one. This will ensure that you don't suffer any of the aforementioned issues while you wait for treatment.