Hesperian Health Guides

When Not to Place a Filling

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.


HealthWiki > Where There Is No Dentist > Chapter 10: How to Fill a Cavity > When Not to Place a Filling


DENT Ch10 Page 143-2.png

Do not fill a cavity if you think there is an abscess in the tooth. Look for these signs of an abscess:

  • The face is swollen.
  • There is a gum bubble near the root of the tooth.
  • The tooth hurts constantly, even when the person tries to sleep.
  • The tooth hurts sharply when you tap it gently.


An abscess occurs when germs from tooth decay start an infection on the inside of the tooth. If you cover up an abscess with filling material, it will make the problem worse. Pressure builds up inside the filled tooth, causing even more pain and swelling.

If a tooth has an abscess, take it out, unless you can give special nerve treatment (root canal treatment).


This page was updated:19 Feb 2018