Abscessed Tooth - Symptoms

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What are the signs and symptoms of an abscessed tooth?

  1. The tooth turns dark in color compared to surrounding teeth. The byproducts of the necrotic pulp that leach into the porous tooth layer cause this discoloration. In many cases, there may be no pain present.
  2. There is pain with eating or with pressing on the tooth. The abscess that has spread out the root tip causes the supporting structures (gum and bone) to be affected. Sometimes the throbbing or pulsating pain is so severe it can't be relieved with pain medications. This is usually related to the infection spreading and causing more pressure on the surrounding structures of gum and bone.
  3. There is swelling and/or a pimple on the gum that is filled with pus. This pimple is called a "draining fistula" and oftentimes can rupture to release pus. This is an obvious sign of infection. Other signs of a tooth abscess are a bad taste or bad odor in the mouth.
  4. A swollen face or jaw often signals a growing infection. Jaw pain from the swelling can be present as well.

It is also important to note that an abscessed tooth may not have any symptoms at all. Because the tooth has lost vitality (or the ability to feel stimuli), there may be no pain associated with it. However, the abscess is still present and could be further spreading the infection. On occasion, an abscessed tooth is detected during a routine radiographic (X-ray) exam where the patient has not experienced any telltale symptoms of an abscessed tooth.

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Comment from: Never get an abscess, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: August 21

I had extreme pain at the actual site of the infection that feels like something is literally eating your jaw from the inside; it is a constant very sharp pain. My abscessed tooth was on the bottom right, 2nd molar from the back (3rd if I had my wisdom teeth). I also felt an intense throbbing pain just below my ear, and that same pain, but less intense just below my jaw in my neck. The swelling was immense, it felt to be about the size of two 2 liter caps side by side. Also, it seemed that the swelling hindered my hearing in the infected side but just slightly.

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Comment from: SeverelyDepressed, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 17

I had an abscessed tooth and my symptoms were fever, headache, earache, and jaw pain. I had severe swelling of the jaw, and even eye pain. I couldn't talk to anyone because I was in so much pain. I couldn't sleep because the pain was so severe especially at night, I was even in tears because of the pain. On a scale of 1 to 10 my pain rate was way beyond that, I rate the pain I felt a 20. I advise anyone who has an abscessed tooth to get it taken care of immediately. It's not worth going through lots of pain and suffering.

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