Telltale Signs You Have an Abscess

Nov 02, 2023
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An abscessed tooth involves a serious infection that requires immediate treatment to get better and prevent complications. Knowing these telltale signs can help you seek care as soon as possible.

Any type of toothache is a sign that you need to see your dentist — as quickly as possible. But some toothaches are especially serious, resulting from problems that, without treatment, can quickly become much worse. 

Dental abscesses are a good example. These deep infections affect your gums or the interior part of your teeth, forming painful, swollen pockets of pus. Without prompt dental care, the bacteria causing the infection can spread to other parts of your body — including your heart.

Valay Desai, DDS, Prashant Amin, DDS, and our team at DNTL Studio help patients in Upland, California, get the right treatment for abscesses, eliminating bacteria, relieving symptoms, and preventing future infections. 

In this post, learn what symptoms accompany a tooth abscess so you can seek treatment as quickly as possible.

Severe pain

Any toothache is uncomfortable, but an abscess tends to be especially painful. These deep infections can cause continual or persistent, recurring pain that can interfere with your daily activities and quality of life. Pain tends to grow worse over time, intensifying when you bite, chew, or put pressure on your tooth.

Sensitivity to hot and cold

When abscesses press on a nerve or expose a nerve, that nerve becomes irritated and extra sensitive to changes in temperature. Hot or cold foods and drinks can cause a worsening of pain or sharp, shooting pain. Even breathing in cold air can cause discomfort in your affected tooth.

Swollen gums or cheek 

Swelling in your gum or cheek is another symptom of an abscess, occurring when the pocket of pus grows larger. These swollen areas tend to be tender, and your gums may appear red. A severe abscess can make one side of your face appear swollen and puffy.


Abscesses that spread into your face can sometimes spread to your ear area. You might have a persistent earache or pain that extends from your cheek into your ear region.

Persistent bad breath or sour taste

The bacteria that cause tooth and gum infections produce toxins when they multiply. As pus drains into your mouth, these toxins can cause chronic bad breath or a sour taste that won’t go away with brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. 

Neck pain or stiffness

Without treatment, the bacteria can spread into your neck area, causing swelling in the sides of your neck and even making it difficult to swallow. Your neck may feel stiff or you may have discomfort when you turn your head.

Fever or feeling generally unwell

Your body fights infection by increasing your body temperature in an attempt to make it harder for bacteria to multiply. Like any infection, an abscess can cause a fever too. You might feel tired or generally unwell as your immune system fights off the infection.

Relief for your abscess

Dental abscesses require prompt treatment, not only to relieve painful symptoms but to prevent the infection from spreading throughout your body. To find out what’s causing your tooth pain and how we can help, call 909-982-8893 or book an appointment online at DNTL Studio today.