Dental Abscess – Part Two: Treatment of Facial Swellings

Dental Tooth Abscess
Dental Abscess
Dental Abscess

When a swelling is small and localized to a specific area, we treat it with an oral antibiotic and try to drain the area of any infection.

However, if a swelling is large and has traveled to another area, I.E. up to the eye, it’s best for the patient go to the hospital and have an IV (intravenous) inserted.  When the IV route is used, the antibiotic goes directly into your system and will take effect right away.

The oral route can take up to 24 hours until it starts to kick in.  Draining an area of a large swelling is also desirable if possible.

Rationale for Treating a Swelling

Once the infection is under control, we are able to treat the tooth…Let me explain:  A tooth that has an existing swelling is very difficult to freeze (numb).  The actual infection interferes with the effectiveness of the anesthetic.

When the infection is under control and the swelling has gone down, we are able to adequately freeze the tooth; hence, the need for an antibiotic whether using the oral or IV route.

Treatment Options

  1. If the tooth is salvageable, then it’s always nice to be able to save the tooth via a root canal and crown.
  2. Otherwise, the treatment is to extract the tooth and clean out all of the diseased and infected tissue remaining in the tooth socket.

We would then wait several months until the ‘socket’ heals and place either an implant or a bridge (please see blog “Options to Replace a Missing Tooth”  posted on October 2, 2011.)


Our goal with an infected tooth which has a swelling is not to just get rid of the infection, but in addition and equally important, to treat the tooth…medication alone is not the answer; we must also deal with the problem.

Yours in dental wellness,

Dr. F. Keshavarz Dentistry, Brampton’s Gentle Dentist

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