Having toothache that no pain killer can control can be quite frustrating, from not being able to eat or even sleep in some cases.

Just one of the reasons toothache can be so bad is due to dental abscesses but what causes them?

They usually happen when pus builds up beneath your teeth or gums when you have an infection in your mouth, according to the NHS.

You may also get dental abscesses if you have a tooth that has not grown out of your gums properly, have tooth decay or even when you have damaged your teeth, gums or mouth.

What are the symptoms of dental abscesses?

The NHS has listed some of the signs you might have a dental abscess, such as:

  • intense toothache or pain in your gums
  • redness inside the mouth, or outside the mouth on the face or jaw
  • sensitivity to hot or cold food and drink in the affected area
  • a bad taste in your mouth
  • difficulty opening your mouth and chewing food
  • a swollen face or jaw
  • a high temperature

How to ease abscess tooth pain

If you find yourself in pain while you wait to see a dentist, the NHS has outlined a number of ways that could provide some relief, including:

  • taking painkillers, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol (children under 16 should not take aspirin)
  • eating soft foods like soup, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and yoghurt
  • using a soft toothbrush to clean your teeth
  • avoiding sugary, or very hot or cold, foods and drinks

Oxford Mail: These are the symptoms of a dental abscessThese are the symptoms of a dental abscess (Image: Rui Vieira/PA)

Will a dental abscess go away on its own?

A dental abscess is usually treated by your dentist, who will drain away the puss.

The NHS explains: “If a problem with your tooth has caused the abscess, you may need root canal treatment, or the tooth may be removed. You'll be given a local anaesthetic, so you do not feel any pain.

“You may be offered painkillers to take for a few days after treatment and may also be given antibiotics.”

If you are struggling due to pain in your mouth, call your dentist – if they're closed, their answerphone may tell you what to do.

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But if you don’t have a dentist or can’t get an appointment, the NHS recommends:

  • calling 111 or get help from 111 online – they can tell you where you can get help for your symptoms
  • find a dentist near you – ask if you can have an emergency appointment

You can find out more information about dental abscesses including how much treatment could cost on the NHS website.