What happens to an untreated abscess? A brief guide from our dentist at Navan Dental

Tuesday, 26th January, 2021

Discomfort, sensitivity, swelling and discolouration of the gum; it's an abscess!

While many people are able to spot the tell-tale signs of dental infection and will seek appropriate medical treatment, for one reason or another, some people do not do this and simply hope that the infection will resolve itself.

And in some cases, a dental infection can resolve without medical intervention and will offer a reprieve from the swelling and discomfort. But this is often short-lived, with the majority of dental infections occurring again within 6 months.

At Navan Dental, our dentist Meath can help all of our patients who have a dental emergency. With daily slots put aside each day, we can treat that abscess promptly and will aim to get you on the road to recovery with antibiotics and potential endodontic treatments. After all, we care about your health and dental infections are far from fun!

But what happens if a dental infection is left untreated? Here, our dentist Meath discusses the typical timeline for an untreated dental abscess.

Initial stages

This is the point at which many people seek dental treatment; there is discomfort, pressure, swelling which can be accompanied by heat and cold sensitivity. There may also be a discolouration of the gums.

Our dentist Meath would aim to treat the underlying infection with antibiotics and would schedule you in for a root canal procedure in about a week's time.


If left untreated, it is likely that a dental infection will rupture, which may temporarily alleviate the sensation of pressure.

The pulp of the tooth is still infected and as the abscess ruptures, it can spread into surrounding soft tissues. In short, what started as an infection under one tooth may now become an infection across an entire gum line, this is something prompt action by our dentist can avoid.

At this stage, our team would be able to offer you a longer course of antibiotics and would be able to resolve the infection with a root canal once the infection has eased.


In the same way that the infection can infiltrate the soft tissues of the mouth, if it is left for long enough it can spread into the bone. At this stage, you are at a higher risk of developing sepsis and the associated soft tissue growth of the infection may be causing issues with breathing.

You may have a fever, feel dizzy and may even be fainting.

Once an infection has got into bone, it is harder to treat and if you were to visit our team at this stage, the treatment option will no longer be a root canal, but may involve the removal of part of your jaw. Depending on the spread of the infection, you may need to consume more antibiotic medications for a longer time.

Bear in mind that some dental infections have been known to seep into the bloodstream and have caused problems with brain swelling and function.

So, at the first sign of an abscess, contact our team immediately! Our practice accepts medical cards (Irish NHS), being aware of this may help your decision.

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