Prevent Pain and Swelling by Recognising the Early Signs of an Abscessed Tooth

Dentist Blog

If you have ever suffered from an abscessed tooth, you will know that it can be an unpleasant experience. It's important to recognise the early signs of a dental abscess. Dentists will need to repair the tooth that has become abscessed in order to prevent the infection from returning. Your dentist can only treat the tooth if there's minimal swelling on your gums, or ideally, no swelling at all. By doing everything within your power to keep swelling to a minimum you will be able to have your tooth repaired sooner, as the dentist will not need to wait for this swelling to dissipate. When you notice the warning signs of a dental abscess, you need to do everything you can to prevent swelling, and you need to make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible—on the same day is best.

A Quickly-Developing Toothache

Toothache is the primary sign of an impending dental abscess. Sometimes you are able to see the damage to the tooth, but other times the infection might have developed as a result of a near-microscopic crack or hole. The toothache will develop rapidly, sometimes within hours. So what do you need to do to minimise swelling, thus minimising the required treatment time?

Cold Water

Swirl cold water in your mouth to minimise the swelling. Do not use ice water or ice cubes. There will be increased sensitivity around the affected area, and using ice can cause pain. You can apply a cold compress to the outside of your jaw, but do not apply it directly to your gums. A small bag of frozen peas is ideal, and this should be wrapped in a tea towel for added comfort.

A Tea Bag

Soak a black tea bag in warm water and wring it out in order to remove excess liquid. Apply this to the affected area. The warmth will provide relief from the pain, and the tannin (an organic compound) evident in the tea has anti-inflammatory properties. It will also aid in blood clotting if the abscess is bleeding.


Take a painkiller that contains ibuprofen. This will minimise the unpleasant feeling of the abscess and the anti-inflammatory nature of the medication will target the swelling in your gums.

By following these basic steps, you will keep any swelling to an absolute minimum. Your dentist might still prescribe antibiotics to control the infection that has resulted from your abscessed tooth, but they should be able to repair the tooth as soon as you're able to see them.


1 March 2016

Dental Health: Not To Be Taken For Granted

As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.