An abscess on a tooth is an encapsulated accumulation of pus in the tissue of the oral mucosa, which occurs in the course of an inflammation. The origin of the inflammatory process can be the tooth itself or the surrounding tissue. An abscess can only be treated surgically.
Symptoms – An overview
These symptoms often occur with an abscess on the tooth:
- Redness, swelling, warming
- Pain when tapping the tooth
- Throbbing pain, especially at night
- Pain-free intervals
- Gum inflammation with pus
- Jaw Pain
- Pressure/pressure pain below the tooth
- Tooth is loosened
- Pain when chewing
- “Big Cheek”
Symptoms in detail
If the tooth is dead and the cause of the pain, then in most cases it reacts with pain to a careful tapping of the crown of the tooth. The patient experiences throbbing pain that peaks at night and often flattens out during the day. This is due to the lying position which is taken at night.
The head is supplied with more blood while lying down, which also puts more pressure on the already sensitive tooth and the tensed tissue (because the pus capsule also requires space) and it reacts with severe pain. Pain relief is felt after cooling the affected area, whereas warmth increases the pain. In this case, the increased blood flow when warm can be blamed for the pain and the reduced blood flow due to the cold can be blamed for the relief.
The tooth itself may no longer lie firmly in the jawbone due to the accumulation of pus under the root tip and may be loosened and wobble slightly, or appear elongated. In this case, the accumulation of pus below the tooth has pushed it out of its bone cavity. Now every time the patient bites, pressure is immediately put on the tooth by the antagonistic teeth and the patient can only close his mouth or eat correctly with great difficulty.
Some patients feel great pain when pressure is applied to the jaw approximately at the level of the root tip. This can also be an indication of an abscess. Very often you can see an abscess in a patient’s mouth without even looking inside.
A swollen cheek can be a very good indication, as can palpation of the lymph nodes in the neck area, which are swollen and sensitive to pressure in the case of an abscess. Abscesses on the lower jaw are particularly noticeable, as they tend to cause extensive swelling. They can affect the whole neck and lead to breathing difficulties.
- Abscess in the lower jaw
- Abscess in the jaw
Typical symptoms of an abscess are the five signs of inflammation. Increased temperature, reddening of the skin, swelling of the soft tissues, loss of function and pain. Sometimes, however, it can happen that pain is absent completely or only occurs temporarily and then recedes into the background.
Pain is caused by the increasing tissue pressure due to the inflammation. If it disappears again, this is a sign that the tissue pressure has decreased again. The inflammation has then usually broken through into the surrounding soft tissue, where it has more opportunities to spread.
After some time, however, it can become painful again. At some point, the pressure also increases in the soft tissue, but only later, as there is more space for fluid accumulation. As the inflammation can no longer spread further, a swelling develops which is visible from the outside.
The pain relief is therefore usually only temporary and also very individual. Although the majority of those affected complain of pain with an abscess, it is not unusual for it not to occur. In case of doubt, always go to the dentist, even if nothing hurts, because an abscess does not heal on its own and can also become very large unnoticed.
The pus is caused by inflammatory tissue breakdown and the death of a special subgroup of white blood cells, the neutrophil granulocytes, which previously tried to fight the bacteria but did not succeed. Pus is a highly infectious tissue secretion, which has a yellowish to greenish cloudy colour and an unpleasant odour. The type of bacteria primarily responsible for the purulent abscess formation in the oral cavity is the staphylococci.