Dental Abscess Overview
A dental abscess is an infection of the mouth, face, jaw, or throat that begins as a tooth infection or cavity. Although these infections can be caused by poor dental health and can result from lack of proper and timely dental care, they may also occur in people with underlying medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders (Sjögren's syndrome and similar conditions) or conditions that weaken the immune system (diabetes, post-radiation/chemotherapy cancer care). Dental abscesses can also be triggered by minor trauma in the oral cavity.
- Bacteria from dental caries (a tooth cavity) can extend into the gums, the cheek, the throat, beneath the tongue, or even into the jaw or facial bones. A dental abscess can become very painful when tissues become inflamed or due to the pressure within the abscess. A gum or gingival abscess is the result of infection or trauma to the surface of the gum tissue. Periodontal abscesses are the result of an infection that has moved deeper into gum areas, and a periapical abscess refers to a tooth with an infection of the pulp.
- Pus collects at the site of the infection. The condition will become progressively more painful until the abscess either ruptures and drains on its own or is drained surgically.
- Rarely, the infection can progress to the point at which swelling threatens to block the airway, causing difficulty breathing. Dental abscesses can also make you generally ill, with nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills, and sweats.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2014
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