A dental abscess is typically diagnosed during a dental examination. Here are some common diagnostic methods a dentist may use1:

  1. Dental X-rays: These can show the dentist whether there’s an abscess, and help determine how large it is and whether it’s spread to nearby structures.
  2. Examining the area: The dentist might tap on your teeth to see if any are sensitive to touch or pressure, a possible sign of an abscess.
  3. Reviewing your symptoms and medical history: The dentist will ask about your symptoms and whether you’ve had any recent dental problems or procedures.
  4. Looking for swelling or redness: A visual examination can often reveal swollen gums or a swollen jaw related to an abscess.

In some cases, especially when the infection has spread beyond the tooth, additional tests such as CT scans may be needed to assess the extent of the infection.

If you suspect you have a dental abscess, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. An untreated abscess can lead to more serious infections in other parts of your body.