Acute Apical Periodontitis

Dental diagnosis

How does the dentist diagnose Acute Apical Periodontitis?

The following signs and symptoms are evaluated to determine an Acute Apical Periodontitis diagnosis:

Sign or Symptom Yes No Maybe
Sudden pain in an area of a long-term infection or recent injury Yes    
Tooth hurts when biting, chewing, or tapping on it Yes    
Gums appear healthy Yes    
The tooth is cracked   No  
Foreign object in the gums   No  
Swelling     Maybe
Fever     Maybe
Severe spontaneous pain     Maybe
An X-ray image of the tooth shows changes     Maybe
The tooth moves slightly when pressed     Maybe
Drainage around the tooth1     Maybe
The lymph nodes beneath the jawline and in the neck are tender and enlarged, particularly on the affected side.2     Maybe

(1) If drainage is present, the term “suppurative” is added to the diagnosis: Chronic apical suppurative periodontitis. Drainage from infections can produce a bad taste and bad breath (halitosis).

(2) Lymph nodes are where white blood cells that fight infection mature.

Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

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This page was last updated on November 24, 2017.

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