How do you treat an abscessed tooth? What is a root canal?

Antibiotics administered by your dentist will kill the bacteria causing the infection of an abscessed tooth. However, the abscess—the source of the infection—must still be removed. The dentist will drill into the infected tooth or gum and drain the infectious pus.

Your dentist will also examine the infected tooth to see what damaged has been in its interior pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue that holds the blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue and extends from the tooth’s crown down to the root within the jaw bone.

In the past, an abscessed tooth was almost certain to be removed. Today, a dentist can often do a root canal treatment to remove the infected pulp and save the tooth. If however, the tooth exam reveals that the interior is beyond repair the dentist will skip a root canal and instead remove, or extract, the tooth.