A dental abscess is an amassment of pus - commonly at the root of a tooth or inside the tooth socket. Sometimes abscesses can form draining tracts that appear on the outside of the muzzle or under the eye.
First symptoms of a dental abscess are excessive salivation and pain when biting or chewing food. The condition may remain unnoticed for a longer period of time, as even severe symptoms such as the dissolution of the jawbone may be painless for the dog. Some abscesses may regress spontaneously. As pus builds up it will eventually find an exit, either on the oral mucosa or through the nose, and this leads to unilateral nasal discharge. Draining tracts may also appear on the skin, often below the eye, and discharge the pus. Swelling around the area is often present too. Owners often notice a foul smell from the mouth.
Abscesses are caused by bacterial infection and primarily develop around the fangs/canines or upper molars. Oral and dental diseases such as gingivitis and fractured teeth are predisposing factors. Infections of abscess-causing bacteria may also affect the jawbone, leading to its dissolution, which is a serious health condition. Abscesses can grow in size and cause a visible swelling of the jaw.
The most effective treatment is extraction of the infected tooth. Antibiotics and pain medication will usually be administered concurrently.
If your dog is showing symptoms of a dental abscess, consult a veterinary clinic. In cases where the jawbone is affected, surgery may be necessary.