How to get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist? 

How to get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist

Tooth abscess is the accumulation of pus in the gums from an infected tooth. The spreading tooth infection requires immediate treatment and you can’t get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist. However, there are few home remedies to relieve pain, but their effects are temporary.

Let’s first understand about the tooth dental abscess; how is it formed and why it can’t it be treated at home.

What is a tooth abscess?

A tooth abscess is a localized accumulation of pus in the bone and/or gums surrounding an infected tooth.

Abscess is localized infection restricted to bone and soft tissues of the jaw, however, if left untreated, it can spread to the brain or neck, which can be life threatening.

What causes a tooth abscess?

An untreated tooth infection results in tooth abscess. The pus, a collection of dead white cells and fluid, spreads from a small tooth orifice in the surrounding bone. It follows the path of least resistance, perforates the thinnest cortical (bony) plate and spread under the gums, causing swelling of the jaw. The abscess creates tension/pressure in the tissues, resulting in severe pain.

Occasionally, the pus releases from a small hole, which appears as a gum boil or pimple. Tooth abscess with a gum boil are often painless because of the periodic relsease of pus from the swelling.

A tooth gets infected because of the following reasons:

  • A cavity in the tooth
  • Trauma to the tooth
  • A crack in the tooth allows bacteria to enter the tooth and cause infection

What does a tooth abscess look like?

If you have a tooth abscess, you will likely experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • A swelling of the jaw 
  • Pain and discomfort in and around the swelling
  • A deep cavity on the tooth near the swelling. 
  • Severe pain in the tooth  
  • Foul smell from the mouth
  • A gum boil 
  • Pus coming from gums
  • Gum inflammation
  • Difficulty in opening mouth 

What is the treatment of a tooth abscess?

Acute tooth abscess (painful swelling) requires incision and drainage following by a root canal treatment or extraction of the infected tooth. Incision and drainage releases pressure and relieves pain. However, infected tooth needs treatment to remove the source of infection.

Why can’t you get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist?

The following are the reasons that precludes its treatment at home:

  • An abscess cannot be obliterated unless the source of infection, i.e., the infected tooth, is not treated. 
  • For hard swellings, the dentist drills a hole in the tooth or extracts the infected tooth to allow the pus to drain. 
  • If the swelling is soft, an incision or cut is made on the swelling to allow the pus to release. With the sterile forceps, the dentist breaks the compartments/chambers in the pus to allow complete drainage. Occasionally, a rubber drain is placed in the cut to keep it open. The problematic tooth is treated at a later appointment when the swelling subsides. 
  • Abscess drainage is a surgical procedure, and sterile instruments and a surgical field are the neccessary to prevent any secondary infection.  
  • In people with diabetes or compromised immune systems, antibiotics may be required to treat and prevent the spread of infection. 
  • Abscess results from an untreated tooth infection that spreads in the bone, so now it’s the high time to get it treated by a dental professional.
  • If the infection is left untreated, it may descends to deep neck spaces or ascends to intracranial sinuses in the brain leading to a life-threatening infection.

How to get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist?

There are a few medicinal, and natural remedies for tooth abscess which can give you temporary relief from the pain and swelling but you can’t get rid of tooth abscess without going to the dentist.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication 

Pain is usually severe in acute abscess due to build-up of pus pressure in the tissues. OTC pain medication can give you temporary relief and is the most effective way to manage it at home. They will reduce the inflammation but they will not cure the infection.  

You can take ibuprofen (Advil) 400 or 600mg after every 6 hours. If you pregnant and looking for a safer pain medication, then take 1-2 tablets of panadol (paracetamol) 500mg after every 6 hours. 

In case of severe pain, advil 500mg and panadol 500mg can be taken together every 6 hours but don’t exceed the dosage. 

Warm saline rinses 

Warm saline water has an anti-inflammatory and anti-plaque effect on wound healing, and complications after tooth extraction. It also eases the inflammation and pain in the mouth in patients receiving radiotherapy or chemotherapy. 

This hypertonic salt water is also believed to stop the growth of bacteria and is easily available is every house hold. You can use it for the temporary pain relieve in a dental abscess.

How to do warm saline rinses? Mix a teaspoon of sea salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around the mouth for 30 sec to 1 minute then spit it. Repeat it 3-4 times a day. 

Ice application 

Ice packs are commonly prescribed after oral surgery to stop post-surgical swelling and discomfort. The skin temperature needs to be reduced to 10 to 15°C to reduce swelling and inflammation. Cold therapy lowers the temperature to the desired level in 15-20 minutes. 

Cold therapy lowers pain perception, reduces swelling and constricts the blood vessels. Overall, ice application decreases dental pain by 50%. The cold signals are transmitted directly to the spinal cord and reduces pain comparable to transcutaneous electrical stimulation nerve (TENS) and acupuncture. 

R. Melzack

How to do it?

Apply an ice bag on the side of swelling or infection for 20 mins. Repeat it after every 20 min for 4-5 times a day. 

Essential oils

Essential oils are volatile aromatic solvents extracted from plant leaves, seeds, resins, woods, barks and berries by a delicate process.

They are raw, condensed, intensely reactive, water insoluble fluids and, therefore, can’t be directly applied on the soft tissues. To avoid irritation, essential oils are mixed with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil and then applied inside the mouth.

Most essential oils have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Clove oil is the most frequently used essential oil for dental problems. It is obtained from the leaves of clove trees. The phenylpropanoids such as eugenol, carvacrol, thymol and cinnamaldehyde present in clove oil are helpful against toothache, bad breath, and gum disease etc,.   

Eucalyptus oil is is extracted from eucalyptus globulus, also called blue gum. The α-pinene, 1,8-cineole, cryptone, α-terpineol, trans- pinocarveol, globulol, terpinene-4-ol, cuminal, limonene, and aromadendrene constituents in eucalyptus oil have an ability to kill tumor and bacterial cells.

It also activates the innate arm of immunity (first line of defence) and are used as an adjunct therapy in infectious diseases, and tumor chemotherapy.  

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia leaves. It is rich in  α-terpinene, terpinen-4-ol, terpinolene, γ-terpinene, and α-pinene. 

The tea tree extract kills bacteria, and heals mouth ulcers and, therefore, provides relief against the pain and inflammation resulting from dental abscess. 

How to use essential oils?

You can use it in one of the three ways for the management of tooth abscess:

  • Dry the area of application with a clean cotton swab. Add a 2-3 drops of essential oil to a teaspoon of olive oil or any carrier oil and massage on the swelling. 
  • You can also apply the oil mix to a cotton swab and hold it on the infected site for a couple of mins. 
  • You can add a few drops of essential oil in a glass of water and swish it around the mouth for 30 sec to 1min and spit it out. 

Precautions: You need to be careful with the essential oils because of their concentrated nature;

  • Avoid any contact with the eyes. 
  • If you experience irritation at the site of application in the mouth, wipe it with the dry cotton swab and apply an olive or coconut oil on the affected area.

Oil pulling 

Oil pulling is an old Ayurvedic traditional technique used for healing. It pulls the disease causing bacteria and toxins from the mouth, reduces inflammation and improves the gum health.

It can be done with any cold pressed extra virgin vegetable oil such as olive oil, sesame oil or coconut oil. 

How to do oil pulling?

  • Take a tablespoon of vegetable oil and swish it around the mouth for 15-20 mins or as long as you can tolerate. It will pull the pus and saliva out.  
  • Spit it out in the garbage or toilet bowl. Spiting it in the drain can clog the drain pipes. 

Baking soda rinses 

Infection and pus creates an acidic environment and baking soda has an alkaline nature. Its higher solubility, and low abrasiveness allow rapid plaque and salivary penetration and a rise in tissue pH (approaching a healthy pH) in dental abscess. It also reduces the load of nasty bacteria in the mouth, minimises pain, discomfort and accelerates healing.

How to use baking soda? Mix half a teaspoon of baking soda in half glass of water, swish it around the mouth for 30 sec and spit it out. Repeat it 2-3 times a day. 

When to report to the emergency room (ER)?

If the abscess spreads to deep facial or neck spaces, it is known as cellulitis and is a life threatening condition. It may also ascend to the brain. Call or report to emergency room immediately if you develop the one or more of following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100°F (38°C) or higher 
  • Swelling or redness gets worse 
  • Difficulty in swallowing or breathing
  • Drowsiness or altered mental state


You can not get rid of the tooth abscess without going to the dentist and you need a prompt treatment from a dental professional. The treatment of tooth abscess involves releasing pus and elimination of the source of infection through incision and drainage, and root canal treatment/extraction of the culprit tooth. 

There are ways you can manage pain and swelling related to abscessed tooth at home. These remedies will only give you partial and short-term relief. 

You can use warm saline rinses, ice application, baking soda water, essential oils, oil pulling, and over-the-counter pain medication to heal tooth abscess.

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