Tooth Root Abscess in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

A tooth root abscess can occur when the tooth root is exposed to bacteria, for example if the tooth has been fractured, in connection with FORL or when the tooth’s supporting tissues have suffered from a deep infection (periodontitis).

A tooth that has been knocked off when the cat has chewed on something hard is in the risk zone for suffering from a bacterial infection in the root. When the tooth’s pulp is exposed, oral bacteria can enter the deeper parts of the tooth.

Tooth root abscess is a typical complication of dental fracture, but can also be a consequence of the dental disease FORL. Tooth root abscesses can in some cases occur in connection with periodontitis (inflammation of the tooth’s supporting tissues) and tooth loss.


Tooth root abscesses are very painful.

However, it can be difficult to detect that the cat has a toothache because it is uncommon for cats to moan or complain when they are in pain. However, they may have more or less obvious behavioral changes:

A cat with a toothache may stop biting on its toys, avoid dry food in favor of soft foods, salivate a lot, go away more or become irritable.

The cat often avoids chewing on the painful side and after a while you can see that this side has developed more tartar. Bad breath is also a common symptom of oral disease. Some cats wash / rub more with their paws on their face.

In the case of advanced tooth root abscess, a swelling is seen in the facial region or an eye bulges out. The cat may have difficulty opening or closing its mouth. Sometimes the abscess opens and empties where, either out through the skin or into the nasal cavity. In the latter case, the pet owner may observe a foul-smelling, one-sided nasal flow. Even unilateral eye flow can be a sign of tooth root abscess.


The veterinarian examines the face, mouth, teeth and lymph nodes in the region and takes the temperature of the cat.

Diagnosis is often made with the help of a dental X-ray when the cat is anesthetized or sedated, and then it is assessed at the same time how extensive the inflammation is and whether the jawbone is affected. Samples may be taken for microscopic examination to rule out other causes of the swelling, such as a tumor.


To alleviate the inflammation and pain, antibiotics as well as painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication are given. To overcome the root cause, however, the abscess needs to be cleaned up and re-infection of the tooth prevented, not infrequently by the tooth being pulled out.

If the tooth root abscess has arisen as a result of another disease in the oral cavity, such as periodontitis or FORL, this disease should also be treated.


If the cat’s tooth root abscess has been the result of traumatic injury, it can usually be restored if the abscess is detected in time and treated. If the infection has spread to the jawbone, the treatment can be more long-lasting and demanding. However, any other, simultaneous, dental diseases may be of a more chronic nature.


If you discover that your cat has broken a tooth, you should have it examined by a veterinarian, who can assess the extent of the damage and whether there is a risk of infection, as well as possibly x-ray the tooth. If a root filling is done at an early stage, tooth root infection can be prevented.

Good oral hygiene is very important to prevent or slow down the appearance of inflammation and infection in the oral cavity. It is best to make toothbrushing a habit already during the kitten age, so that plaque and tartar do not form on the teeth, which paves the way for inflammation and bacterial infection.

Some cats do not accept toothbrushing, and then cleaning with antiseptics intended for teeth (often containing chlorhexidine) may be an option. The agents can be sprayed on or bathed in with the help of, for example, a compress that is wrapped around the finger.

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