Dental health is important in dogs and humans alike.

Problems can occur, and as pet owners, we need to know how to deal with them.

Knowing these pieces of information can save your dogs and cats from a lot of pain.

Tooth abscesses are more common than we think, so let’s see how we can deal with them!

What is Dog Tooth Abscess

  • Definition of Abscess
  • Tooth Root Abscess in Dogs
  • Dog Tooth Abscess vs. Other Dental Infections

Definition of Abscess

Abscesses can develop in any part of the body.

They are the result of an immune response to an infection.

When an infection appears, the white blood cells notice it.

They travel to it through the blood.

This way, the organism protects itself.

In abscesses, this can also cause problems.

When they arrive, they build up and form a pocket.

This pocket is full of puss.

The puss contains white blood cells, germs, and dead tissue. [1]

An abscess is an enclosed collection of pus in tissues.

They can appear on any organ or confined spaces in the body.

It is a sign of infection and is usually swollen and inflamed.

When they are in the mouth, they can be obvious.

Even if you don’t see them at first, your dog or cat will show signs. [2]

The first sign you may notice is refusing to eat.

Your pet may seem interested in the food but avoids it because of the pain.

They can also start drooling and paw their face.

If you see these behavioral changes keep an eye on them.

Check your pup’s mouth.

If you see swelling, try to compare it to dog tooth abscess pictures and call your vet.

Tooth Root Abscess in Dogs

A tooth root abscess is the same process in a different area.

This happens on the root of a broken or damaged tooth. [3]

When bacteria come in contact with the pulp of the tooth, an infection begins.

Eventually, the tooth dies.

The bacteria leak into the root canal and contaminate the jaw bone.

A persistent infection leads to an abscess.

It’s important to know the early signs of an abscess. [4]

In cases when the root is the problem, it’s more complicated.

You or your vet can’t see the abscess.

Your pet may have an abscess, and you wouldn’t know without an X-ray.

Dog Tooth Abscess vs Other Dental Infections


Dog tooth abscess

Other Dental Infections

Always caused by bacteria

Can have other causes

Caused by dental problems such as chipped teeth

Caused by foreign objects, tartar

Most commonly treated with surgery

It can be treated without surgery, depending on the problem




Lower appetite

Caused by bacteria


Bad breath

Abscessed teeth share a plethora of symptoms with other dental problems.

In order to not get them mixed, you have to consult with your veterinarian.

Untreated dog tooth abscesses can have devastating outcomes.

Symptoms and Clinical Signs of Dog Tooth Abscess

  • Infected Dog Tooth Symptoms
  • Clinical Signs in Dogs
  • Abscessed Tooth in a Dog Symptoms

Infected Dog Tooth Symptoms

Pets, especially dogs, are good at hiding dental pain.

This is why you should check your pet’s teeth once in a while.

This can also be done on their recommended daily brushing. [5]

Infected teeth can have many signs.

Your pet feels pain and discomfort.

It can lead to decreased appetite.

This is the most obvious sign for the owner.

If you check their mouth, you may also see swelling and oral malodor. [6]

Some dogs drool.

This can be hard to notice in breeds like Saint Bernards or Newfoundlands.

Drooling can also be caused by other problems.

Don’t base a tooth problem on that symptom only. [7]

Dog tooth extraction complications symptoms are similar.

Keep that in mind if your pet doesn’t go back to normal for a few days after the procedure.

Clinical Signs in Dogs

The main symptom you’ll notice as an owner is the lack of eating your pet will do.

The appetite is low because the pet is in pain and has trouble eating or chewing on any hard object.

This includes toys.

You may notice them chew on only one side.

Check the other side after they’re done.

You may notice facial and gum swelling.

Another clinical sign is halitosis.

The bad breath is caused by the puss in the abscess.

Plaque and tartar can also build up on the side of the problem.

This can also cause a bad smell. [8]

Broken teeth are the leading cause of abscesses.

The break can cause puss build-up in the tooth root.

This is harder to see than a gum abscess.

If left untreated for a while, a fever can appear.

Abscessed Tooth in a Dog Symptoms

Normal teeth

Abscessed teeth

White color

Mild to severe discoloration (yellow, brown or black)

No swelling

Swelling in the gums

Pink gums

Red and irritated gums, painful to touch

Normal breath

Halitosis or bad breath

Normal lymph nodes

Swollen lymph nodes closest to tooth

No breaks in teeth

Broken or chipped tooth

Normal behavior

Lethargic behavior

Normal temperature


Normal appetite

Lower appetite due to pain

Little to no plaque

Higher chance of plaque

The symptoms are similar to those of an infected tooth.

Tooth abscesses lead to an immune reaction.

This means that the lymph nodes near the tooth will be swollen.

If the abscess is around the root, you may think it’s acting sick from another cause.

Be sure to contact your veterinarian if you suspect anything.

Causes of Tooth Abscesses in Dogs

  • Dental Infections
  • Infected Teeth Causes
  • Causes of Tooth Root Abscess

Dental Infections

In order to get to the bottom of the problem, we need to know what caused it.

By knowing the cause, it’s easier to prevent a process from happening.

Dental infections in dogs can have various causes.

They can also lead to secondary problems.

If left untreated, they can progress to a painful abscess formation.

The infection can start in any part of the mouth.

The gums are the easiest gate to an abscess in dogs and other animals.

Untreated dental infections can also lead to systemic immune problems.

This is especially present in bacterial infections.

The bacteria lead to an abscess.

The abscess can turn into sepsis after a while.

It all depends on the immune system of the pet. [9]

Infected Teeth Causes

Teeth infections are almost always caused by poor dental care.

Plaque and tartar are the main culprits.

Their buildup can lead to many problems.

Bad teeth in dogs can sometimes be worse than the situation.

Treatment for plaque and tartar is easy.

You’ll need to make a dental appointment at the vet.

Your pet will be put under anesthesia and have a dental cleaning.

This is why it’s important to do daily brushing.

With brushing, you avoid anesthesia.

Make sure to pick the right toothpaste for your dog as well.

Different age groups have different needs. [10]

Oral trauma can lead to both infections and abscesses.

Make sure to check your dog’s teeth after a day in the park.

Your pet may have a tooth that’s chipped or broken.

Wondering what to do if my dog’s tooth falls out is good.

It’s your sign to check in with your vet and monitor the situation.

Your vet will have different suggestions on treatment.

This depends on the diagnosis and severity.

Try to notice these before they cause a problem.

Causes of Tooth Root Abscess

Risk factors for tooth abscesses

Broken or chipped teeth

Decaying teeth

Lack of dental care

Tartar and plaque build-up


Periodontal disease

Foreign objects

Malocclusion or retained baby teeth

Immune deficiency

The causes of tooth toot abscesses are important.

By knowing them, you can stop them from happening.

Most of the causes are connected to overall dental care and cleaning.

Periodontal disease can expose the root.

If left untreated, tartar will build on the tooth.

This leads to gum disease and their receding.

With receding, the root becomes exposed.

Bacteria can go in and cause an abscess. [11]

Decaying or broken teeth can lead to an open pulp.

If the pulp is infected, pulpitis occurs.

The bacteria infecting the pulp can get to the root and cause an abscess. [12]

Foreign objects stuck between the teeth can damage the gums.

Gingivitis and cavities can follow.

After that, pulpitis can develop.

The infection can once again get to the root.

Malocclusion or retained baby teeth can lead to overcrowding.

Aside from gingivitis, the pressure can lead to an exposed root. [13]

Most abscesses in dogs are tackled by their immune system.

If there are issues with it, an abscess is more likely to happen.

Diagnostic Measures for Tooth Abscess

  • Diagnosing Tooth Abscesses
  • Diagnose a Tooth Root Abscess

Diagnosing Tooth Abscesses

It’s important to diagnose a dog tooth abscess as soon as possible.

The proper diagnosis leads to faster treatment.

The first thing your vet will do is a detailed oral exam.

They will check for changes in the gums.

The gums can become red when an infection is present.

Abscesses are different because there is a puss-filled pocket.

This is visible.

They will also check for broken or chipped teeth.

The break or chip can make the pulp vulnerable.

Bacteria enter there and can go to the root.

For more detailed exams, your pet may be placed under anesthesia.

After that, the vet will order dental radiographs. [14]

Through this imaging, they will determine where the process is.

Cat scans are also available to see the bone surrounding the tooth. [15]

Diagnose a Tooth Root Abscess

The diagnostic steps are similar to that of normal tooth abscesses.

There will be other clinical signs.

The X-ray will also be different.

The bone structure of the tooth and jaw will be weaker. [16]

One peculiar sign shows in dogs with carnassial tooth abscesses. [17]

It’s caused by trauma, chewing hard objects, or bacteria from periodontal disease.

A patient with this diagnosis has a sore beneath the eye.

The surrounding tissue is swollen.

The sore can also be drained.

An x-ray is needed to see if it’s connected to a tooth.

The only treatment is the extraction of the tooth.

This will help drain the puss.

The bleeding and swelling subsides in a few days.

It’s advised for the dogs not to chew hard food or objects. [18]

Dog Tooth Abscess Treatment Options

  • Treatment Option for Abscess
  • Addressing Infected Teeth
  • Resolving Tooth Infections

Treatment Option for Abscess                                                                                                   


Antibiotics and pain meds

Root canal treatment





Will lower the pain until surgery

It will save the tooth

Easiest option

No need for anesthesia

Faster healing process

Fast healing process


Won’t resolve the issue

Won’t be able to eat for a while

Most painful for the pet

Dull pain for a few days

Will only be able to eat soft food until healing is done

Anesthesia needed

Anesthesia needed

The treatment for abscesses is easy, even though your dog may not like them.

When you suspect that your dog may have a tooth problem, take them to the vet.

There your doctor will evaluate the problem and, if needed, schedule an operation.

Until then, your dog will be given pain medication and an antibiotic.

This will tackle the infection and prevent the spreading.

The two available and most effective treatment options.

They are root canal therapy and extraction.

Root canal therapy involves the removal of the pulp.

After the removal, the sight is sterilized.

The removed tissue is replaced with dental material. [19]

The easier treatment option is extraction.

Extraction is easier and cheaper.

The whole tooth is removed.

After that, the gums are stitched.

The healing is done after 10-14 days. [20]

Addressing Infected Teeth

Health comes through the mouth.

Addressing infected teeth is as important in humans as it is in animals.

It has been proven in the past that dental problems can lead to death in humans. [21]

The possibility is the same in animals.

Can a tooth abscess kill a dog is a valid question. [22]

Even though we may think dental issues can resolve on their own, that usually isn’t the case.

Always make sure to keep an eye on your furry friend’s behavior.

It’s one of the first things that change when they have dental problems.

Resolving Tooth Infections






Assessing the situation. Vets will do a general check-up as well as an oral one

There are no cons to getting a checkup


Dental X-rays

Detailed imaging of mouth and teeth

Anesthesia and nausea afterward


Dental cleaning

Gets rid of the cause of many other problems, including abscesses

Anesthesia and discomfort afterward, possible bleeding

170-350$ if done by a general practitioner.

Up to 4000$ if done by a specialist

Tooth extraction

In some cases, it could be lifesaving

Anesthesia, pain, longer discomfort than cleaning

Inability to eat solid food for a while

500-2500$, including cleaning of other teeth

Drainage of abscesses

Stops the pain for a while

Will return if not treated with a root canal or extraction



This will help control the situation until proper treatment

It can cause other problems with immune system responses

Depends on the duration and type of antibiotic

The easiest step is taking your pet to the vet.

If you see your dog in pain, an examination is needed.

Dental X-rays will show detailed imaging of the mouth.

This can result in treatment such as cleaning or extraction.

If an abscess is present, it can be drained until one of the treatment procedures is done. [23]

Meanwhile, your vet will give you antibiotics and pain meds.

Home care is important in this period.

This includes a diet change and keeping chew toys away.

After the treatment is done, your doctor will schedule a follow-up visit.

Prevention Strategies for Dog Tooth Abscess

  • Preventing Tooth Abscesses
  • Prevent Tooth Root Abscesses

Preventing Tooth Abscesses

Pictures of dog teeth with problems should be enough to make us want to do dental care.

Maintaining oral hygiene is easy.

You just have to pick a good toothbrush and toothpaste for your furry friend.

Make sure to get a professional cleaning at least once a year.

Regular checkups are a must as well.

It’s always easier and cheaper to prevent tooth problems.

Prevent Tooth Root Abscesses

Toothbrush for Puppies It’s important to know the needs of your pups. They have smaller teeth and more sensitive gums. Silicone toothbrushes are better for them
Toothbrush for adults The adult toothbrushes usually come in a kit with toothpaste.
Dental chew toys They are the best for all ages. They’re softer and gummier than regular hard chew toys
Toothpastes Enzymatic toothpastes are the best. They help prevent and break down plaque.
Finger wipes Finger wipes are also good for puppies and grown dogs. They’re simpler to use than toothbrushes but less effective.

Avoiding trauma to the teeth is essential to avoid tooth root abscesses.

Make sure to do daily dental cleaning and check for breaks and chips.

This can be done by avoiding hard chew toys and going for dental toys.

Dental cleaning at home and professionally are suggested.

This will remove tartar and plaque and prevent any type of process. [24]

Can a Dog Live With a Tooth Abscess?

No, a dog can not live with a tooth abscess.

Your dog will be in severe pain.

The pain will get worse with time.

The infection can spread through the body.

This can cause more serious health issues.

The bacteria can cause septicemia or blood poisoning, which leads to death.

Treatment prices can range, but no money can replace a friend.

Will a Dog’s Tooth Abscess Burst on Its Own?

No, a dog’s tooth abscess will not burst on its own.

Abscesses are usually resilient.

A lot of time has to pass for them to burst.

They can also burst if punctured or pressed.

This is not recommended for the owner to do.

If you see an abscess or any other sign of toothache, take your pet to the vet.

Can a Dog’s Tooth Abscess Heal on Its Own?

No, a dog’s tooth abscess can not heal on its own.

If your dog displays symptoms, take it to the vet.

The vet will give a proper diagnosis and treat it.

Many pet owners are concerned about the costs.

That is why owners try to avoid veterinary interventions.

But abscess healing on its own is not the solution.

How Do You Get Rid of an Abscessed Tooth in a Dog?

You can get rid of an abscessed tooth in a dog in 2 ways.

The first one is root canal therapy.

This method replaces the infected pulp with dental material.

These are usually done by specialists.

The other one is extraction.

Unlike the first one, a regular vet can do this treatment.

After the tooth is extracted, the socket is cleaned and stitched.