Oral Health and Genetic Risk Factors

Dental Abscess: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

A dental abscess is a condition associated with the infection of the teeth, gums or the general surrounding tissue. The problem leads to inflammation and collection of pus around the affected area. Over time, the infection can spread to the nearby teeth and gum tissues in your mouth. There are two types of dental abscess issues: peri-apical and periodontal abscesses. The former occurs if you have a dental cavity that allows bacteria to penetrate the inner pulp cavity in the tooth. The blood vessels and nerves in the centre of the tooth will die, and the infection will penetrate to the supporting bone, causing an abscess. On the other hand, periodontal abscess is caused by gum diseases and damage. Here is basic information to help you understand dental abscess.


The main sign of a dental abscess is intense throbbing pain in the teeth or gum tissues that are affected. The pain starts suddenly, is continuous and can gradually become worse as the infection spreads. The area will be sensitive to pressure and extreme temperatures, so eating will become difficult. An abscess will cause swelling in the base area of the teeth and associated gum tissue. If this is left untreated, the swelling and subsequent aching will spread to the lymph glands around the neck, the jaw and the ear area. You will also experience difficulty swallowing and even opening your mouth. A fever might develop as your body attempts to fight the bacteria, and you might have halitosis and a bad oral taste.


You should seek immediate medical attention from your dentist if you notice any signs of dental abscess. This will limit the risk of the infection spreading to other areas and causing health complications. The dentist will visually examine your oral cavity during the preliminary assessment of your teeth. An infected gum is usually red and swollen, and you will experience pain when the dentist taps on a tooth with an abscess. The dentist will also take an x-ray to confirm the problem if they determine that the likelihood of an abscess is high.


Your dentist will discuss the best treatment option with you after completing the examination and establishing the diagnosis. The expert may recommend a root canal or extraction if the infection is still only around your tooth. Regrettably, if the dental infection and abscess has spread, you will need surgical treatment to restore health. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to fight the bacteria, particularly in a rapidly spreading abscess.