Dentist Questions Tooth Abscess

Can a tooth abscess be seen on an X-ray?

The doctor has been suspecting a tooth abscess for my son who is 9 years old. What are the ways in which a tooth abscess can be detected? Is there a way that physical examination of the mouth can help the doctor identify the condition or can it be seen on an X-ray? Can the abscess show up on the X-ray in the early stages itself?

25 Answers

A physical exam would be helpful, but an abscess must develop beyond a certain point before it can be seen on an X-ray.
Sometimes you can see it on an X-ray and sometimes during an exam when a little pimple appears.
Tooth abscesses can be detected on xrays. They can have associated symptoms or not sometimes. They can have oral manifestations such as draining pus or swelling in the mouth or jaw. Antibiotics is usually the first course of treatment followed by appropriate treatment of the tooth or cause. On a 9 year old there would likely be obvious decay on a tooth also seen on an x-ray. Other possible causes could involve some primary or baby teeth. Your dentist should be able to determine whether there is an infection or not and advise necessary treatment.
Yes an abcess can be detected on a panoramic or periapical X-ray. They can also be detected clinically. Early stage abscesses usually exhibit sensitivity upon applying pressure to the area. A percussion test (tapping on the crown of the infected tooth) can also be an effective way to locate which tooth has been affected by the abscess.
Yes, an abscess can be seen on X-ray. Please call our office if you have any questions. We have a panoramic x-ray machine at our office.
The simple answer is - yes- an xray is very helpful to diagnose an abscess (or infection). Depending on how long the infection has been present, it can appear small or large. On a radiograph, it appears radiolucent (dark) like a void. If one is to look in the mouth, frequently there is also swelling present that appears like a blister (or larger) near the tooth involved. If there is evidence in the mouth, the abscess has been there for a while.

Hope this helps,

Jossi Stokes, DDS, FAGD
Yes you can see it in the X-ray, you can see a pathology under the tooth if he had an abscess also you could see a Vistula on the gum if the patient had an abscess tooth abscess can be detected by swelling in the early stages or Vistula in the late stages or by pathology under the tooth in the X-ray.
Many times an abscess can be sen on an x-ray- but not always.  An
abscess is visible usually in later stages of the condition when
infection has affected and dissolved some of the bone surrounding the
root, leaving a dark area or shadow in that area.  Usually, when
visible, the condition has been growing for 6 to 9 months. But
sometimes, in the early stages of an abscess, when the infection hasn't
yet caused too much visible damage, we have to rely on symptoms for the
diagnosis of abscess.  Some of those symptoms are: pain to biting,
spontaneous pain (toothache), pain to hot or cold that lingers beyond a
few seconds, or a draining "blister" alongside the tooth.  We can even
test  the tooth with a mild electric current to see if the nerve
reacts.  If it doesn't, it means that the pulp of the tooth has mostly
or totally died and an abscess is forming.
If the abscess is long standing it may be visual in the mouth as a bubble and when pressed pus/ exudate is expelled. An abscess can be seen on xrays as a dark area around the apex of the tooth if the tooth is the cause of the infection ie. a deep cavity. The tooth may also be painful to the touch or no longer vital and not respond to cold/hot test. Your dentist will be able to ascertain whether an abscess is present.
An abscess is, basically, usually an infection of the nerve of the tooth that has worked its way down the length of the tooth to the very end (apex). When that infection starts affecting the bone, it is called an abscess. Or it can begin as an infection in the gums that gets to and affects the bone. Either way, it is not seen until it gets to the bone and so is not seen on an x-ray in the early stages. There are a couple of tests that can be done, depending on the suspected cause, to confirm the infection, for instance a pulp vitality test, or pocket probing.
A dental abscess can be seen easily after several weeks once the nerve has died, early on may be difficult. A periodontal abscess will also be evident after sufficient bone loss exists. Physical signs are usually more evident in later stages. A dental professional should be seen and a dental radiograph is essential
Yes it can but if it is in lower jaw it might take time to show on X-ray due to thickness of mandible
Yes xrays can show an abscess even in the early stages as a widening of the periodontal ligament space. However other tests such as a vitality test should be performed as well.
I am sorry to hear about the potential abscess in your 9 year old son. Before answering your question, I would like to state that there are several types of abscesses, all of which present differently. Dental abscesses are the most common type of abscess in the mouth and result from the nerve or pulp area on the inside of the tooth becoming infected with bacteria. The bacteria are then able to leave the tooth and enter into the jaw bone at which point they can cause destruction in the jaw bone area around the end of the tooth root. The bacteria typically come from a deep cavity or from the gum tissue.
Usually abscesses can be seen on an x-ray as a dark halo around the root tip of the tooth in question. Not always though. In the early stages of an abscess, the root tip may seem normal on a radiograph. In the mouth, the dentist will 'tap' on the tooth. If it hurts or feels different than the adjacent tooth, then that is not a good sign. Patient signs of a dying tooth will be a throbbing pain particularly at night or a pain to cold that doesn't go away within a few seconds.
A tooth abscess usually presents with symptoms first. A patient has pain. The tooth is sensitive to chewing or hurts when tap on it. Sometimes there is swelling or a blister above the tooth in the gum. An x-ray initially rarely shows anything.
The tooth abscesses because of trauma-injury to face or occlusal trauma due to bruxism(clenching or grinding) , large decay or a large filling.
Abscesses can be seen visually during a clinical exam and in radiographs.
Early accesses can't always be seen on a x-ray. Specific symptoms and pain
also factor into the diagnosis and treatment. It would be prudent to have
your son seen by a dentist to evaluate the area of concern and make sure
the dentist get a radiograph.
Yes abscesses may appear as peri-epical radiolucency on x-rays. It may also manifest as gum boils or bumps which may sometimes be painful on palpation.
A dental abscess can appear in many forms. There are various signs and symptoms of dental abscesses. Early acute signs may display pain, swelling or redness in the area. Sometimes an unexplained low grade fever . Typically not visible on x-rays at its early stages. More advanced Chronic abscesses show up on x-rays.
A tooth abscess will show up on an xray as a radiolucent, or dark area, in the bone around the root of the tooth. However, in the early stages of the pulp dying, the radiolucency may not be visible yet.
Yes the abscess can be viewed as a fistulas track clinically in side the mouth by your dentist it will also show up as radiolucency on the xray around the affected root structure on the particular tooth that is infected. Other local symptoms may include sensitivity to heat and cold and infection can even cause the tooth to become super erupted and interfere with the overall bite occlusion. More technical measures can be administered by your doctor to determine the Vitality of the tooth as indicated with a Dental pulp meter.
Sometimes yes and sometimes no, symptoms are the best way to start the assessment.