When you have an abscessed tooth, the first thing you want is relief from the pain. Over the counter drugs like naproxen or ibuprofen can be helpful. Remember, however, that even though the aching has subsided, the infection still exists [source: Balentine]. If the sore within or surrounding the tooth bursts, you can rinse your mouth with salt water as a short-term remedy. A visit to a dentist is your next step.
Your dentist may choose to suction some of the infected fluids from the sore for analysis. Understanding the type of infection you have can help him or her determine which medicines are best. You'll likely be prescribed an antibiotic that can kill off the germs that created the abscess. The dentist may also choose to make a small cut in the infected area to allow for drainage [source: Drugs.com]. If the infection has spread into the bottom of your mouth or into the neck region, the sore may need to be drained via surgery while you're under anesthesia [source: Balentine].
Your doctor will want to remove the cause of the abscess so it doesn't reoccur. This could mean undergoing a procedure such as a root canal. The key is to insure that the crack in the enamel and the infected area is removed. Your dentist may decide the best way to accomplish this is simply by pulling the tooth.
An abscess shouldn't be ignored. In extreme cases, the infection can spread throughout the body, block the airway and even prove to be life threatening [source: Drugs.com].