Dental Abscesses

Dental AbscessesWhat causes a dental abscess?

Often, a dental abscess is a complication of a dental infection. Most often, the bacteria present in plaque make their way into a tooth. Other times, a failed root canal treatment can lead to dental abscesses. 

What are the symptoms of a dental abscess or infection?

Pain is the most common symptom of a dental abscess. Often the pain radiates out to other places in the face like the jaw, neck, or ear. Other symptoms include:

• pain in the area while biting or chewing
• extreme sensitivity to cold and hot
• pus seeping out of the abscess
• fever
• swelling in the face or lymph glands
• insomnia (trouble sleeping)
• general feelings of fatigue or sickness
• dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
• foul taste in the patient's mouth
• breathing difficulties

What should I do if I have a dental abscess?

If you think you might have a dental abscess, you should see a dentist immediately. If you are having any swallowing or breathing problems, go to the emergency center of your local hospital. Occasionally, dental abscesses require surgery, but most of the time they can be relieved with antibiotics. While waiting for the antibiotics and painkillers to kick in, there are several things you should do to avoid causing further pain or discomfort. These include: 

• avoiding hot food and drinks
• avoiding cold food and drinks
• chewing on the good side of your mouth
• avoid flossing in the infected area
• using an extra soft toothbrush

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Nordqvist, Christian. "What Is a Dental Abscess? What Causes Dental Abscesses?" Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 26 Sept. 2014. <>.

Kathleen FM Fan, Judith Jones (2009). OSCEs for dentistry (2nd ed., new and updated. ed.). 2nd: PasTest Ltd. p. 68. ISBN 9781905635504.[/expand]