Dr. Katelyn Fenlon is a general dentist at Princess Center Dentistry in Scottsdale Arizona and today she is answering the question, how do dentists treat an abscess? 

First,  an abscess needs to be diagnosed. How a dentist will diagnose an abscess? 

Most people think of an abscess as a big swelling of the jaw or associated with a certain tooth.

We can diagnose an abscess before it progresses to that point by taking an x-ray or by doing a physical exam.

Sometimes an abscess starts out really small, like a little bump or pimple next to the tooth. Usually it starts that way before before it gets really big and swollen. As dentists, we always want to catch it before it gets to that point.

Of course an abscess can be caused by a number of different things.

Usually an abscess is caused by either decay or a crack in the tooth that lets bacteria in.

Wondering how an abscess is treated? An endodontist is a root canal specialist. If an abscess is really severe, a tooth may may require extraction. If an abscess is treatable, typically you would see an endodontist to have a root canal done on the tooth which would remove the infected nerve tissue and heal the abscess.

Wondering if you will need antibiotics? Sometimes we can prescribe an antibiotic if indicated not every time is it indicated especially if you can have the tooth treated either with a root canal or with an extraction. But various antibiotics can be prescribed to help the abscess go down and to control it before treatment can be initiated.

Got a question? Ask our dentist, Dr. Fenlon! Or leave it in a comment below.