If you have a painful toothache, don’t just wait it out and hope it goes away on its own. You might have a serious condition called a tooth abscess.

A tooth abscess is a space filled with pus that forms around the gums or root of an infected tooth.1 You can soothe the pain with home remedies, but you may need to see a dentist as soon as you can. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body.2

Here are some symptoms and treatments for a tooth abscess.

Symptoms of tooth abscess

One of the common symptoms of a tooth abscess is a painful, throbbing toothache. But there are other signs too, including:3

  • Swelling in the face
  • Tooth sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing

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Pain relief for tooth abscess

If you have a tooth abscess, experts recommend visiting your dentist as soon as you can.4 In the meantime, some home remedies to treat tooth abscess pain include:

  • Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water5
  • Applying a cold compress6
  • Rinsing with a few drops of clove oil diluted in water7
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers8
  • Over-the-counter anesthetics and oral gels9

Dental treatments for tooth abscess

A dentist may use different tooth abscess treatments in order to treat the infection. These procedures might include:10

Root canal

A root canal is 1 of the more common treatments for a tooth abscess. During the procedure, a dentist drills into the infected tooth and cleans out the pulp all the way to the root. They then fill and seal the tooth to prevent further infection. After the root canal, your tooth should look and work like normal.


Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection, especially if it has spread beyond the site of the tooth abscess.

Tooth extraction

If the dentist can’t save the abscessed tooth with a root canal, they may have to remove the tooth.


In extreme cases where the infection has spread, you may need hospitalization or surgery to drain and treat the abscess.

Schedule a dental appointment for your tooth abscess

If you have a tooth abscess, it’s important to schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible. Humana offers a variety of affordable dental plan options, with more than 270,000 dentists in our network.*

Find a dentist in your plan’s network to schedule a treatment and reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Humana can help with tooth abscess treatment

If you need dental treatment for tooth abscess, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.


  1. ”Tooth Abscess Symptoms & Causes,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tooth-abscess/symptoms-causes/syc-20350901, opens new window.
  2. “Tooth Abscess Diagnosis & Treatment,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tooth-abscess/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350907, opens new window.
  3. “What Is an Abscessed Tooth?,” WebMD, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/abscessed-tooth, opens new window.
  4. “Tooth Abscess Symptoms & Causes”
  5. “10 Home Remedies for a Tooth Abscess,” Healthline, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-for-abscess-tooth, opens new window.
  6. “10 Home Remedies for a Tooth Abscess.”
  7. “10 Home Remedies for a Tooth Abscess.”
  8. “Tooth Abscess,” Healthline, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-oral-health-tooth-abscess, opens new window.
  9. “Toothache Home Remedies,” WebMD, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/home-remedies-toothache, opens new window.
  10. “What Is an Abscessed Tooth?”