How Can I Reduce Facial Swelling from an Abscessed Tooth?

woman smiling after solving dental emergency

I think I have an abscessed tooth that’s making my face swell up. I do have an untreated cavity in that area—the dentist told me I needed a crown and I’ve been saving up to have it done. The pain isn’t too terrible, but I want to bring the swelling down until I can get in. What’s the best method?



Dear R,

A tooth abscess is an infection, and therefore, a dental emergency. It’s not something you should wait to treat.

Get an Emergency Dental Appointment Today

Dental abscesses send hundreds of people to the hospital each year. Sadly, a handful don’t make it home. Indeed, in the modern era, with all the technology and medicine we have in America, people still die from dental issues. It may not seem like a huge deal, but it could become one incredibly fast. It’s not a good idea to wait, even until tomorrow, to get treatment. Try to find a dental office that will see you today.

If You Can’t Get into a Dentist, See a Physician

Not all areas have dentists who reserve time for emergencies and sometimes all the slots are full. If this is the case in your situation, touch base with your primary care physician, an urgent care, or if need be, a hospital. Either way, you’ll need antibiotics to take care of the infection, and any medical provider can help you there.

Follow Up with Treatment After Antibiotics

If you visit a dental office, they may be able to treat the underlying issue right away, but there’s some chance you could leave a dental office or physician with a prescription for antibiotics and instructions to follow up for treatment. Typically, this means having a root canal done because the tooth is no longer vital and will continue to be a place for bacteria to collect until it’s cleaned out and the canal is filled. A crown is usually added to the top to give it more strength, as teeth that have root canals tend to become brittle and more prone to breakage. Given that yours already has a cavity that you’re aware of, a significant portion of the tooth structure is compromised as-is. So, you do need a comprehensive solution; the sooner, the better.

The antibiotics should take care of the infection, which will take care of the swelling, but it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean you’re “better” and can continue on like you have been. The tooth will eventually flare back up again after the antibiotics wear off because the underlying issue has not been addressed and you’ll be back to square one.

If money remains an issue at that point, look for someone who offers affordable dental care or consider having the tooth extracted. The latter is not ideal, but it certainly beats the worst-case scenario of an untreated tooth abscess.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist Dr. Steve Sirin. If you’re experiencing an abscess, contact his office to inquire about a same-day appointment.

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