Can I Use Mouthwash With An Abscess?

In this brief article we will learn about whether or not mouthwash can be used for rinsing when there is an abscess in the mouth.  

Can I Use Mouthwash With An Abscess?

Yes, you can use a mouthwash with an abscess. Most of the abscesses in the mouth form under a closed cavity. This is why most of the time your mouthwash will not reach the abscess, making it safe for use when you have an abscess in the mouth. 

There are certain types of medicated, antiseptic mouthwashes as well, such as the ones that have betadine in them. These mouthwashes are used specifically when there is some kind of an infection in the mouth, like an abscess.

Such mouthwashes have stronger antibacterial properties and are used to wash away the abscess and any debris in the mouth after treating an abscess or if the is on the outer surfaces of the gums instead of inner tissues such as the root area of the tooth. However, if your dentist has extracted a tooth because of the abscess, they might advise you not to rinse your mouth with any kind of mouthwash for at least the next twenty four hours.

When you get a tooth extracted, a fresh wound forms there and there is bleeding. A clot needs to form in the extraction socket for the wound to heal. If you rinse your mouth during the first twenty four hours post-op, the clot can get dislodged, which will lead to complications such as bleeding and dry socket, a condition which is extremely painful.

How Does Abscess Form In The Mouth?

 An Abscess is an extremely painful condition which forms due to the collection of pus in an area. Abscess can develop anywhere in the body and there is no specific site which is more prone to it. The tissue over an abscess will be painful, warm and inflamed. 

An abscess is mainly formed by bacterial infection. When these infection-causing bacteria enter your body, the immune system of our body, which is responsible for fighting infection in our body, sends white blood cells to the affected area.These white blood cells start attacking the bacteria and as a result, some bacteria as well as nearby tissues die. This creates a hole in that area which then starts filling with pus and an abscess forms. 

An acute abscess is more painful and will have a sharp, stinging pain. Such an abscess is formed in a short duration and all its symptoms will be much more severe. On the contrary, a chronic or a long standing abscess will present itself with dull pain. It will not be as sharp as the pain of an acute abscess but will be dull and throbbing. The other signs and symptoms of a dental abscess are:

  • Pain that  is spreading to your ear, neck and jaw on the same side as that of the affected tooth or gum.
  • Pain which worsens on lying down, disrupting your sleep.
  • Redness and swelling in the affected area of the mouth
  • A discoloured or tender tooth.
  • Temperature of the affected area will be higher than the surrounding area.
  • Experiencing sensitivity to cold or hot food and beverages.
  • Bad breath and a weird taste in the mouth. 
  • One side of the mouth feeling heavier and a sensation of pressure on the affected side. 
  • A noticeable swelling that might make it seem as if one side of the face is different than the other side

If this infection is left untreated and you do not visit your dentist immediately, it may spread and you can further develop a fever. In very severe cases, mouthing opening may become restricted and you will have difficulty in breathing, chewing or swallowing.

What Are The Different Types Of Oral Abscesses?

An oral or a dental abscess can be of three types usually. A periodontal abscess, a periapical abscess and a gingival abscess are the three most common types of dental abscesses. 

A gingival abscess is an abscess of the gums. This abscess forms in the space between the teeth and gums. The gum with an abscess will become shiny, swollen, red and inflamed. Pus may ooze out from the affected area upon pressing. 

A periapical abscess is the one that forms under the tooth, in the bone at the root of the tooth. It can also form between the roots of a tooth which has multiple roots such as the molar. This abscess is extremely painful. The affected tooth will be tender, it may feel elevated and a sensation of pressure will also be felt.

The third type of abscess, that is the periodontal abscess, is the one that forms in the gums, adjacent to the tip of the root of a tooth. It affected the surrounding tissue of the tooth, that is the periodontium. This article will explain the anatomy of a tooth which will help to understand the location of different types of dental abscesses. 

What Does A Mouthwash Do?

A therapeutic mouthwash will have therapeutic ingredients in it which will help fight off disease causing germs in the mouth. When you rinse with a mouthwash, it reaches all the hard to reach surfaces and all crevices in the mouth, which washes of food debris and removes the thin film of plaque which we cannot see with a naked eye. This plaque needs to be removed because it houses the disease causing bacteria.

Some mouthwashes have anticaries or anti-cavity properties. The mouthwashes have fluoride content in them which forms a thin layer of fluoride upon regular use, which in turn helps to prevent tooth decay.

There are also some mouthwashes which help in relieving tooth sensitivity. Apart from this, mouthwashes also help by removing stains on the teeth, fight bad breath and give a fresh clean breath, and soothe dry mouth and gums.   

What To Do If You Have An Abscess In Your Mouth?

An abscess is a condition which should be told about to a dentist. Your dentist will do all the necessary investigations and find out the cause behind that abscess and will then come up with a suitable treatment plan that will get rid of the abscess as well as the cause of that abscess. 

Do not try to pop a gum abscess as this can lead to secondary infections and create complications. Avoid self medicating or trying home remedies and schedule an appointment with your dentist. An abscess in the tooth will not heal on its own, therefore ignoring it is not advised. You can take an over the counter painkiller if you have severe pain. This will give you temporary relief from the pain, however, it will not make the pain go away permanently. This can only be done by your dentist.

Avoid chewing hard food substances. Do not heat or cold compress the affected area. Using clove oil may help with the pain for a short duration. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does mouthwash help gum abscess?

Yes, there are certain types of mouthwashes, such as the ones that have hydrogen peroxide in them, that will help with gum abscess. This kind of mouthwash has strong anti bacterial properties and will oxidise the bacteria, ultimately killing them.

This mouthwash will also help in reducing pain and swelling associated with boils that may form because of an abscess in the gums. However, a hydrogen peroxide based mouthwash should not be used routinely. It is only to be used in case of an infection, when prescribed by your dentist.

What should I avoid if I have an abscess?

As mentioned earlier, an abscess can be a very painful and uncomfortable situation. It is best to avoid hard and chewy food if you have a dental abscess. Eating or drinking too hot or too cold food and beverages can make your pain severe. 

Avoid crisps, gums, candies, very hot tea or coffee, biscuits, acidic drinks, crusty bread items etc. Also, do not try to burst open an abscess on your own. Always consult with your dentist and let them deal with it, so that any complications can be avoided.

Can you heal tooth abscess naturally?

No, unlike some other infections, a tooth abscess will not heal naturally. It needs to be managed by a qualified dentist who will prescribe antibiotics as well as a suitable dental treatment plan for your abscess. Doing hot salt water rinses can give you temporary relief, calming down the inflammation for a short while, but the pain will return until the root cause is not treated. There is no natural or home remedy that will heal a tooth abscess.

Will a dentist pull an abscessed tooth?

If the affected tooth can not be saved by any dental treatment, your dentist will have to take your tooth out. Usually, an abscessed tooth can be saved by procedures such as a root canal treatment along with medications. This will only work if you visit your dentist on time.

 However, if you leave a painful tooth untreated and the abscess is very long standing, chances are that such dental treatments may not work for you and you will have to lose your tooth. Therefore, it is necessary to address a tooth ache as soon as possible and visit your dentist at the earliest.

What happens if an abscess bursts in my mouth?

If an abscess bursts in your mouth, you will feel a foul taste in your mouth and a liquid will ooze out in your mouth. A sudden relief from pain and pressure on the affected tooth will become evident.

However, this does not mean that you are out of the woods. An abscess which ruptures is a clear indication that your infection is spreading and is becoming severe. It is extremely important to visit a dentist in this case immediately. Ignoring this condition can lead to serious conditions, which at times can become dangerous.


A tooth abscess is a condition which needs immediate attention of your dentist. Although, a mouthwash can be used in case of an abscess usually, but if your dentist has extracted a tooth, a mouthwash needs to be avoided. Mouthwash specifically indicated for an abscess can be used if your dentist feels the need and prescribes it to you.

Other FAQs about Mouthwash that you may be interested in.

How To Use Chlorhexidine Mouthwash With Water?

Why Does Listerine Burn My Tongue?

Can Listerine Cause Canker Sores?


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