Tooth Abscess: What It Looks Like & When to Get Help

BY Dr. McDowell  |  January 10th, 2024
Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..

Tooth abscesses are a painful dental condition that can occur when an infection develops within or around a tooth. While they might not always be visible to the naked eye, recognizing the symptoms and understanding what a tooth abscess looks like can help you seek prompt dental care.

But what does a tooth abscess look like? And what should you do if you have one? In this guide, we will explain:

We will also discuss the necessary steps to take if you suspect you have a tooth abscess.

What is a Tooth Abscess?

close up tooth abscess

A tooth abscess is a localized infection that forms within the tooth or the surrounding tissues. This condition can be excruciatingly painful and, if left untreated, may lead to serious complications. Tooth abscesses typically result from the following factors:

5 Symptoms of a Tooth Abscess

Recognizing the symptoms of a tooth abscess is crucial for early diagnosis and treatment. These symptoms may vary in intensity and can include:

1) Severe Toothache:

A persistent, throbbing pain in the affected tooth is one of the most common symptoms of a tooth abscess. The pain may become progressively worse, even spreading to the jaw, ear, or neck.

2) Sensitivity to Hot and Cold:

Tooth sensitivity to temperature changes, particularly when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages, is another prevalent symptom.

3) Swelling and Redness:

Swelling of the face or cheek near the affected tooth, along with redness and tenderness, may indicate the presence of an abscess.

4) Fever and General Discomfort:

As the infection progresses, you may experience fever, general malaise, and a feeling of unwellness.

5) Pus Drainage and Bad Taste:

If the abscess has ruptured, you may notice an unpleasant taste in your mouth, accompanied by the discharge of foul-smelling pus.

What Does a Tooth Abscess Look Like?

While some visual signs of a tooth abscess may not be readily apparent, there are several ways to identify its presence:

What to Do If You Think You Have a Tooth Abscess

Large tooth abscess

If you suspect you have a tooth abscess, it’s essential to take immediate action to prevent the infection from spreading and causing further complications. Here are the steps to follow:

📞 Contact Your Dentist:

The first and most crucial step is to schedule an appointment with your dentist or an emergency dental clinic. Describe your symptoms and express your concern about a possible tooth abscess.

💊 Over-the-Counter Pain Relief:

While waiting for your dental appointment, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate the pain and reduce inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage instructions.

🥤 Rinse with Warm Saltwater:

Gently rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can help soothe the affected area and temporarily reduce the risk of infection. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.

🥵 Avoid Hot or Cold Foods:

To minimize tooth sensitivity, avoid consuming extremely hot or cold foods and drinks. Stick to a soft, non-irritating diet until you can see a dentist.

🚫 Do Not Attempt to Drain It Yourself:

It’s essential to refrain from attempting to drain the abscess at home. Popping the abscess can lead to further complications and spread the infection.

🪥 Practice Good Oral Hygiene:

Continue to brush and floss your teeth gently, being cautious around the affected area. Good oral hygiene can help prevent the infection from worsening.

How to Find a Qualified Dental Professional

Finding the right dental professional to address your tooth abscess is paramount in ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment. Here are some steps to help you find a qualified dental professional:

Remember that seeking timely treatment for a tooth abscess is crucial for your oral health and overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified dental professional as soon as you suspect you may have a tooth abscess. By following these steps and finding the right dentist, you can ensure that you receive the best possible care and relief from the discomfort associated with this dental condition.

Get Your Tooth Abscess Symptoms Checked Out!

Recognizing the symptoms and appearance of a tooth abscess is crucial for seeking timely dental care. Tooth abscesses can lead to severe pain and complications if left untreated, so it’s essential to consult a dentist as soon as you suspect you may have one. Prompt treatment can help alleviate your discomfort, prevent further dental issues, and preserve your oral health. Remember that early intervention is key to a swift and successful recovery from a tooth abscess.

At Wayzata Dental, we have the qualifications and experience to help care for your abscessed tooth, and get you back on the road to healing. Contact us today to book your appointment!

Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..