No More Natural Teeth: Deciding Between Implants and Dentures

Spotting A Dental Abscess: Signs, Symptoms, And Next Steps

by Jeremiah Barnett

A dental abscess can be a painful and potentially serious condition, arising from an infection at the base of a tooth or in the spaces between teeth and gums. Early identification and treatment are crucial, as leaving an abscess untreated can lead to more severe complications. If you suspect you have a dental abscess, here's how to identify it and what you should do next.

Understanding the Types

There are two primary kinds of dental abscesses: periapical, which occurs at the tooth's root, and periodontal, which happens in the gums. The causes and symptoms of both can overlap, but their treatments may differ.

Recognizing the Symptoms

There are several signs that you should look out for to identify a dental abscess. 

  1. Pain: One of the most apparent signs of a dental abscess is pain, which can be sharp, throbbing, or shooting. The pain might start suddenly and can range from mild to intense. It may also radiate to the ear, jawbone, or neck.

  2. Swelling and Redness: You might notice swelling or redness in your mouth or on your face. In severe cases, swelling can cause noticeable facial asymmetry.

  3. Sensitivity: There might be increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, or even when biting or chewing.

  4. Foul Taste or Smell: An abscess can produce a bad taste or odor in the mouth. This happens when the abscess ruptures and drains, releasing pus that can be foul-tasting and smelling.

  5. Fever: As with other infections, a dental abscess can lead to fever as your body tries to fight off the infection.

  6. Swollen Lymph Nodes: The lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck might become tender or swollen.

You may only experience one or two symptoms while a dental abscess is developing, but more can appear as the abscess becomes worse. 

Seeking Prompt Treatment

If you recognize any of these symptoms, especially if they appear suddenly or are severe, it's essential to see a dentist as soon as possible. They can confirm the diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment. This may involve draining the abscess, prescribing antibiotics to address the infection, or more specific treatments depending on the abscess type and severity.

Prevention is Key

While recognizing the signs of a dental abscess is vital, prevention is always better than a cure. Regular dental check-ups, maintaining good oral hygiene practices, and addressing dental issues promptly can significantly reduce the risk of developing an abscess.

For more information, reach out to a dentist near you.