What Does an Abscess Tooth Look Like?

An abscessed tooth is a dental condition that demands prompt attention, as it can lead to severe complications if left untreated. This comprehensive guide will explore “what does an abscess tooth look like,” its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. 

 If you find yourself wondering, “What does an abscessed tooth look like?” and are seeking information on this dental issue, you’re in the right place.

What is a Tooth Abscess? 

A abscess tooth is a pocket of pus formed from a bacterial infection in the gums. Visually, an abscess often appears as a red, swollen bump, boil, or pimple. There are three main types of tooth infections that can lead to abscesses:

  • Gingival Abscess: This infection develops in the gums and usually does not affect the tooth or supporting structures.
  • Periapical Abscess: It occurs at the tip of the tooth root and is commonly associated with decayed or fractured teeth. Bacteria enter the tooth, spread to the pulp, and eventually to the root tip, causing an abscess.
  • Periodontal Abscess: Originating in the bone and tissues supporting the teeth, this type is often a result of gum disease and is more prevalent among adults.

How Does an Abscessed Tooth Affect Health? Does an Abscessed Tooth Affect Health

An untreated tooth abscess can have far-reaching consequences, spreading to the jawbone and facial tissues and potentially causing serious health issues. In rare cases, the infection may even reach vital organs such as the heart or brain, leading to conditions like endocarditis or bacterial meningitis.

Who is at risk of developing an Abscessed Tooth? 

Several factors increase the likelihood of developing an abscessed tooth. Individuals who smoke, have dry mouth (xerostomia), don’t maintain oral hygiene, or have a weakened immune system due to diseases or medications are more susceptible.

What are the Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth? 

Recognizing the symptoms of an abscess tooth is crucial for seeking timely treatment. Common signs include:

  • Gnawing or throbbing tooth pain.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
  • Bitter taste in the mouth and bad breath.
  • Redness and swelling of the gums.
  • Loosening of the affected tooth.
  • Swollen areas in the upper or lower jaw.
  • Open, draining sores on the gums.

In addition to localized symptoms, more generalized signs such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a general feeling of discomfort may be present.

What are the Causes of a Tooth Abscess? 

Several factors can create openings for bacteria to enter teeth or surrounding tissues, leading to abscess tooth formation. These include 

  • severe cavities 
  • broken or chipped teeth 
  • gum disease
  • injuries to the teeth that may not necessarily result in visible cracks.

Diagnosis and Tests 

If you are not sure, “What does an abscess tooth look like?” it’s essential to seek a professional diagnosis. Dental professionals may employ the following methods:

  • Dental X-rays: These help identify dental issues contributing to the abscess and determine the extent of the infection.
  • CT Scan: If the infection spreads to the neck, a CT scan provides a detailed view of the affected areas.
  • Physical Examination: Dentists may tap, press, and perform thermal tests to assess sensitivity and the health of the tooth pulp.

How do we Treat an Abscessed Tooth? 

The treatment is done to eliminate the infection and prevent complications. Treatment options include:

  • Incision and Drainage: Creating a small incision to drain pus from the abscess helps alleviate symptoms.
  • Root Canal: This common procedure removes the infected pulp, saving the tooth. A dental crown may be necessary for protection post-treatment.
  • Tooth Extraction: In cases of irreparable damage, extraction may be required.
  • Antibiotics: While they help fight remaining bacteria, antibiotics alone won’t eliminate the cause – the affected tooth.

How long does it take to Recover After Treatment? 

After undergoing treatment, temporary sensitivity is normal. The complete healing time varies, and patients should follow post-treatment care instructions provided by their dentist.

How to Prevent Tooth Abscess? 

Reducing the risk of tooth abscesses involves routine dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene, and timely intervention for loose or chipped teeth. Brushing twice daily, flossing, and regular dental cleanings are essential for maintaining dental health.

Outlook and Prognosis 

Timely intervention is vital for a favorable outcome. If experiencing mouth pain, a toothache, or observing a red, swollen bump on the gums, prompt dental attention is necessary. Emergency room visits are warranted if accompanied by fever, difficulty swallowing, facial swelling, confusion, or an elevated heart rate.


Understanding “what does an abscess tooth look like?” is important for early detection and effective treatment. This guide has covered the visual aspects, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for tooth abscess. Don’t hesitate to take the next step towards a healthier smile. If you suspect an abscessed tooth or simply want a routine check-up, connect with our expert team at Clearwater Family Dental, Florida. Your oral well-being is our priority.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment, or call us at (727) 304-1673 for new patients. Current patients can reach us at (727) 334-7990. Your journey to optimal oral health starts here.”


What does an abscess tooth look like?

An abscess tooth typically manifests as a red, swollen bump, boil, or pimple. Visually identifying these signs is crucial for early detection.

Can I Recognize an Abscessed Tooth by Pain Alone?

While tooth pain is a common symptom, recognizing other visual cues, such as swelling and redness, is equally important for a comprehensive assessment.

How Long Does it Take to Diagnose an Abscessed Tooth?

Seeking professional diagnosis through methods like dental X-rays and physical examinations is usually efficient, providing a quick assessment of the situation.

Can an Abscessed Tooth Heal on its Own Without Treatment?

No, an abscess tooth won’t heal on its own. While pain may subside temporarily if the pulp inside the tooth dies, the infection will persist, necessitating professional intervention.

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