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Dental Abscess (cont.)

Dental Abscess Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of a dental abscess typically include

  • pain,
  • swelling,
  • redness of the mouth and face.

Often one or more teeth will be very sensitive to pressure. With an advanced infection, one can experience other complications such as:

If it remains untreated long enough, the infection can spread through the bone and damage adjacent teeth, which would require additional treatment.

The signs often found in conjunction with a dental abscess may include, but are not limited to:

  • deep cavities,
  • gum inflammation,
  • oral or facial swelling,
  • tenderness with touch,
  • pus drainage, and
  • sometimes limited ability to open the mouth (difficulty or pain upon opening the mouth very wide or when swallowing).

If the abscess has spread to a superficial area, there is typically tenderness to palpation (touch) of the infected area. Dental abscesses may range from mild to severe. They may be associated with no symptoms or with severe symptoms. Depending on a number of factors, the abscess may range from chronic to acute, and stable (not changing) to rapidly spreading. The infection can in some cases spread beyond the teeth and bone through the bloodstream to other areas of the body where it can damage organs and even be life-threatening.

When to Seek Medical Care

If someone thinks he or she has an abscess, call a dentist. If someone is experiencing significant signs or symptoms and is unable to reach a dentist, go to a physician or a hospital's emergency department for evaluation, especially if feeling sick.

If an infection becomes so painful that it cannot be managed by nonprescription medicines, see a doctor or dentist immediately. Drainage might be required. If someone develops fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting as a result of a dental abscess, see a doctor.

If one has intolerable pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, any of the symptoms of a dental abscess, or someone cannot reach a doctor or dentist during off hours, go to a hospital's emergency department for evaluation and treatment. By seeking treatment before the symptoms progress to this stage, one can avoid emergency department visits.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dental Abscess »

A dentoalveolar abscess is an acute lesion characterized by localization of pus in the structures that surround the teeth.

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