Dental Abscess Symptoms: Severe, Throbbing Tooth Pain, Swelling, and More

Monday, May 3, 2021
Dental Abscess Symptoms: Severe, Throbbing Tooth Pain, Swelling, and More

What does the start of a tooth abscess feel like?

A female dentist wearing a facemask and shield with blue gloves performs a root canal on a female patient for tooth abscess.It’s a question many dental patients ask. Typically, dental abscess symptoms begin with soreness and swelling. Over time, however, the side effects of an abscessed tooth worsen. Left untreated, the infection that caused the abscess can spread, resulting in the loss of a tooth, or worse—leading to more serious dental complications.

It’s imperative to see your dentist or an endodontist (a dental specialist who focuses on tooth pain and treatment) as soon as possible. Early intervention of a tooth abscess can often save your tooth, relieve your pain almost immediately, and prevent more serious conditions from developing.

What Are the Symptoms of an Abscess?

There are a range of signs and symptoms that indicate an abscessed tooth. If you experience any of the symptoms below, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist or endodontist as soon as possible.

Dental abscess symptoms include:

  • Throbbing pain
  • Persisting and severe pain
  • Radiating pain that extends from the tooth to the jawbone, neck, or ear
  • Swelling and tenderness (including your jaw, face, and/or cheek)
  • Sensitivity of the tooth and surrounding teeth
  • Reddening of the gums
  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Swallowing and/or breathing difficulty

What Are the Symptoms of a Tooth Infection Spreading?

A black female patient points to her dental abscess while a male, masked dentist with blue gloves holds dental tool.If pain, swelling, and tenderness in your jaw, face, or cheek worsens or is severe, or you have a fever, these are signs that the tooth infection may be spreading. If these symptoms occur, you should seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible.

What Causes a Dental Abscess?

An abscessed tooth develops as the result of infection triggered by tooth decay, a cracked tooth, or periodontal disease. These conditions occur when bacteria access the tooth pulp. When the soft tissue containing connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves of the pulp become infected by bacteria, a pocket of pus develops (abscess).

Dental patients often wonder if there are certain risk factors that lead to a dental abscess forming. The answer is yes. Any of the following factors put people more at risk for tooth infection:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene

Neglected teeth and gums increase the risk for not only developing a tooth abscess but also for tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental conditions. It’s important to brush and floss twice daily to encourage the best oral health outcomes.

  • Unhealthy Diet

Diets high in sugar heighten the risk of cavities and tooth abscesses.

  • Dry Mouth

A blak woman wearing glasses and polka-dot white button up shirt holds side of face in pain from abscessed tooth.Aging and certain medications can cause dry mouth, which puts people at higher risk for tooth decay.

Treatment for Dental Abscess

An abscessed tooth will not go away on its own. Even if an abscess ruptures on its own, dental treatment is needed to eliminate the presence and spread of infection. To treat an abscessed tooth, your endodontist will likely recommend one of the following (depending on the severity of your condition):

  • Root canal treatment
  • Procedure to drain the bacterial infection
  • Pulpectomy to clean the space between the tooth and gums, then filling and sealing the root canal
  • Prescribe antibiotics (although, typically, a pulpotomy, pulpectomy, or nonsurgical root canal treatment are preferred treatments)
What’s Your Risk for a Dental Abscess or Gum Disease?

Did you know that upwards of 47% of people in the U.S. have some form of periodontal disease, with millions remaining undiagnosed for years? To help you determine whether you may have—or be at risk—for gum disease, abscessed teeth, and other dental complications, we encourage you to download our complimentary Penn Dental Family Practice self-assessment. By answering 10 simple questions, you can determine your risk of gum disease and receive guidance on the next steps to take.

At Penn Dental, we offer both endodontic and periodontic services. Both our endodontists and periodontists have the specialized skills and knowledge to help treat and prevent serious tooth decay and gum disease problems.

Don’t wait to get the help and attention you deserve, schedule a visit now. Or, call us anytime at 215-898-7337 for questions.