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Signs and Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth

What You Need to Know

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection which can occur in any area of the tooth. Because the infection is either partially or completely enclosed, and cannot drain, it will result in inflammation, swelling, and if left untreated, serious complications. Signs and symptoms of an abscess include:

  • Severe, throbbing, persistent toothache that can radiate to the neck, ear, or jawbone
  • Sensitivity to pressure and temperature
  • Swelling in your cheek or face
  • Fever
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck or under your jaw
  • Sudden rush of salty, foul-tasting/smelling fluid in your mouth, followed by pain relief, if the abscess ruptures
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing

It is important to keep in mind that children can experience dental abscess as well – and should see their dentist immediately to avoid compromising their future dental health. If your child is complaining of pain in his or her mouth, especially when chewing, check for swollen gums, fever, swelling in the facial area, or a general feeling of illness. Any of these, or the above listed symptoms, may indicate your child is suffering from an abscessed tooth.


If you, or your child, are experiencing difficulty breathing or swallowing, go to the emergency room immediately. This can be an indication that the dental infection has spread through your bloodstream to other areas of your body.

Causes of Dental Abscess

Dental trauma (i.e. cracked tooth), untreated tooth decay, or another breach in your tooth’s surface, can result in a periapical abscess by allowing bacteria to enter and infect the tooth pulp, travel to the root of the tooth, and form an abscess. A periodontal abscess is a visible pocket of pus on the outside of the gum tissue, sometimes caused by untreated gum disease. Any abscess needs to be treated, as it will not go away on its own.

While the abscess may rupture, providing significant pain relief, you will still need to schedule an appointment with your Elk Grove Village Dentist. The abscess may no longer be causing pain due to the pressure, however, the underlying cause is still present. Left untreated, the infection can spread from the teeth and gums to the jawbone, connective tissue, or other parts of the body, and can even cause sepsis, a systemic, life-threatening bacterial infection.


Caring for an Abscessed Tooth

As stated earlier, prompt dental care is vital to ensuring the bacterial infection doesn’t spread. Antibiotics may be prescribed, and your dentist may drain the abscess or place a small hole in the affected tooth to allow for drainage – which should also eliminate the pain and pressure.

Follow-up care is imperative to ensuring the tooth heals completely and the abscess doesn’t return. Various dental procedures, including root canal treatment may be recommended. Make sure to schedule and keep all follow-up appointments and let your dentist know right away if the throbbing pain returns.

Risk Factors and Preventative Care

Preventative care is vital to maintaining a healthy mouth and beautiful smile, and also helps prevent issues like gum disease or dental abscess from developing. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene will help eliminate one of the main risk factors for dental abscess. The other risk factors are dry mouth and drinking too many sugary beverages.

If you or your child experience a tooth abscess, or any other type of dental issue or urgent need, reach out to our dedicated dental team at Brian Homman, DDS. We are here to help eliminate dental pain and provide you with the most comfortable dental experience available -call to book an appointment today.