Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"How critical is a wisdom tooth abscess infection?"

ZocdocAnswersHow critical is a wisdom tooth abscess infection?


I have an appointment with a dentist tomorrow but I have been in pain since thursday. I can feel it spreading to my throat and ear. I wanted to know if I should get some emergency antibiotics today? See a doctor maybe. Aspirin has helped with the pain so far but I'm taking them 5 times a day.


I am sorry to hear that you have been having so much tooth pain, and that you have a wisdom tooth abscess. As you probably know already, there are generally 2 molars in the mandible and maxilla on each side of the mouth. The third molar is what most people refer to as the "wisdom" tooth, or teeth. I can't tell for sure from what you have typed whether you know you have an abscessed tooth, or if you just have pain. Pain is a symptom that is typically the result of swelling or inflammation and the resultant pressure on nerves and pain/pressure receptors. The pain and pressure can obviously be the result of an infection (like pulpitis...or infection of the tooth pulp), but it doesn't necessarily have to be. That's why I'm not sure how you came up with the diagnosis of a wisdom tooth abscess. There are a few different types of dental abscesses that one can get: a gingival abscess is an infection with a fluid collection (pus) that only involves the soft tissues of the gums. A peri-apical abscess involves the bone around the tip of the root of a tooth. A periodontal abscess involves the bone and soft tissues associated with a tooth. Any of these abscesses can potentially propagate and cause much larger more significant odontogenic (originating from teeth) abscesses that can go into the floor of the mouth, neck, etc. You should definitely have a dentist take a look at your painful molar sooner than later for these reasons. I hope this helps.

Need more info?

See a dentist today

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.