Abscess in the upper jaw


An abscess is generally a cavity filled with pus.
This cavity was newly formed as part of an inflammation, so this cavity did not exist before. An abscess is the result of infection with pathogens such as viruses or bacteria. The resulting pus is a sign that the pathogen is being fought by the immune system.
Abscesses in the upper jaw often form as a result of inflammation in the oral cavity and represent an inflammation of the jawbone. Since abscesses in the facial area always run the risk of the If pathogens get into the brain, you should always consult a doctor in such a case.

Causes of the abscess

Abscesses in the upper jaw are often caused by germs, especially special bacteria, e.g. so-called streptococci, which are part of the normal oral flora. Under certain conditions, these pathogens can lead to the formation of an abscess.
Favored this is caused, for example, by inflamed tooth roots, a dead tooth that has become infected or by tooth decay. A so-called tooth cyst or jaw cyst can also be rare present, a fluid-filled cavity that can ultimately lead to an abscess. Last but not least, an abscess in the upper jaw can also be partly caused by infections of the tonsils or sinuses.


Signs of an abscess in the upper jaw can be a new swelling in the area of ​​the cheek, which is extremely sensitive and sometimes painful.
At the beginning, however, pain does not necessarily have to be present immediately, as this only occurs when the pus cavity has reached a corresponding size and presses on neighboring tissue structures. The pus can then also show through to the outside of the skin, making the swelling resemble a large pimple.
The swollen area may also be reddened and warm to the touch. Some sufferers also report a bad taste in the mouth when they develop a jaw abscess. If the jaw muscles are affected by the infection in addition to the jawbone, this can result in a so-called jaw clamp, which means that the mouth can no longer be opened wide . An attack on the muscles of the jaw can also lead to swallowing disorders.

General symptoms of illness can also occur. These are e.g. Fever, malaise, or chills.

Pain from the abscess

An abscess in the upper jaw does not necessarily have to cause pain to the person concerned. As long as the abscess cavity is still relatively small and not yet exerting pressure on the adjacent tissue, a jaw abscess can appear as a swelling in the cheek area without pain.
However, when more and more pus has formed and the cavity expands accordingly, the abscess is often accompanied by pain. These arise when structures adjacent to the abscess are compressed or the skin is excessively stretched due to the swelling.

You may also be interested in this topic: Inflammation in the mouth

Duration of an abscess

It can take various lengths of time for an abscess to develop in the upper jaw, from a few weeks to several months. It can also take different lengths of time before symptoms appear. Since a maxillary abscess does not go away on its own, surgical treatment is essential. After the surgical procedure, a drain remains in the wound for a few days. As soon as this has been removed, you wait for the wound to close automatically. The time span from the operation to the complete healing is approx. One week if the course is uncomplicated.

How dangerous is an abscess in the upper jaw?

An abscess in the upper jaw is uncomfortable, but not life-threatening if treated in time. Surgical removal of the pus and simultaneous treatment of the cause of the abscess formation is an optimal treatment of an upper jaw abscess.

However, if the abscess is not treated and can continue to spread undisturbed, there is a risk that the pathogen will spread through a blood vessel in the face to the inside of the skull. This can lead to a life-threatening blood clot in the veins of the skull, a so-called one Cavernous sinus thrombosis.

The abscess spread to the cheek

If an abscess has formed in the area of ​​the upper jaw, it becomes visible from the outside at the level of the cheeks as it spreads. Characteristically, a bump-shaped swelling then forms here, which can become painful and pressure-sensitive as the disease progresses. A jaw abscess on the cheek can also become visible through reddening of the swollen area and feel warm. In the case of an advanced clinical picture, the accumulation of pus in a jaw abscess can already be seen from the outside in the cheek area.

Read also: Inflammation in the cheek

Treatment of the abscess in the upper jaw

Treating an abscess in the upper jaw can be done in several ways. First and foremost, combating the causes is important, e.g. the elimination of the focus of inflammation in the oral cavity. In the early stages, a jaw abscess can be treated with antibiotics, but this only delays the pus accumulation and does not make the abscess go away.

Therefore, in the case of an abscess in the upper jaw, the pus cavity must be opened with subsequent suction of the contents. Depending on the extent, this can be done through the oral cavity, but sometimes access must also be selected from the outside through the skin of the face.

Find out more at: Pus in the jaw

Operation of an abscess

Surgical treatment of an abscess in the upper jaw can be carried out using two different methods. These both take place under either local or general anesthesia. The first method is used for smaller abscesses. Here, the pus cavity is opened from the oral cavity and then the pus is sucked off. The resulting wound is then not sutured, but left open. A drain is then inserted here to allow further pus to drain away. This is important because if the wound were closed immediately, pus would build up again. After a few days, the drain can be removed.

The second method is used when the abscess is already relatively large. Here the access from the outside is placed over the skin and then a drainage is inserted. The patient then usually receives a head bandage. As part of the surgical removal of an abscess, however, the cause of the accumulation of pus must always be removed, otherwise the surgical procedure must be repeated quickly.

More information can be found here:

  • Surgery of an abscess
  • Healing An Abscess - This Is What To Look For

Home remedies for an abscess in the upper jaw

Generally, home remedies for abscesses are used, which have an anti-inflammatory or antibacterial effect. For example, putting on a sliced ​​onion is recommended. Sometimes it is also advisable to use so-called pulling ointment, which is supposed to help divert the accumulation of pus to the outside.

However, since an abscess in the facial area always carries the risk of the pathogens being passed into the interior of the skull with life-threatening consequences, home remedies should not be experimented with. A visit to the doctor is essential even with an abscess in the upper jaw.

How is an abscess in the upper jaw diagnosed?

The diagnosis of an abscess in the upper jaw is first made clinically. Those affected report a recent, painful, pressure-sensitive swelling in the area of ​​the jaw. This should be followed by a radiological clarification by means of an x-ray of the teeth, possibly also the tonsils or paranasal sinuses, in order to make the foci of infection in the oral cavity visible.

If pus emerges, the pathogen can be determined by means of a smear, which is relevant for the subsequent treatment. In individual cases, computed tomography may also be needed to determine the extent of the abscess.

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