12 doctors weighed in:

Can dental x-rays miss a dental abscess that's causing pain?

12 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Beck
Dentistry
7 doctors agree

In brief: Yes

Yes, a dental abscess can be missed on the dental xray.
Sometimes the abscess may be too small to show up. The abscess could also be obscured by other bony anatomy of the skull. Or the angulation of the xray could be such that the abscess does not show up clearly. The dentist should be able to determine whether you have an abscess by a combination of your symptoms and xrays.

In brief: Yes

Yes, a dental abscess can be missed on the dental xray.
Sometimes the abscess may be too small to show up. The abscess could also be obscured by other bony anatomy of the skull. Or the angulation of the xray could be such that the abscess does not show up clearly. The dentist should be able to determine whether you have an abscess by a combination of your symptoms and xrays.
Dr. James Beck
Dr. James Beck
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Dr. David Stall
Dentistry
2 doctors agree

In brief: Yes, it's possible

Many times xrays cannot detect early forming abcesses.
However, they will eventually be visible. Pain may not be due to an abcess, but a fracture or hidden decay under an old silver filling. Best to see your dentist to reevaluate your problem.

In brief: Yes, it's possible

Many times xrays cannot detect early forming abcesses.
However, they will eventually be visible. Pain may not be due to an abcess, but a fracture or hidden decay under an old silver filling. Best to see your dentist to reevaluate your problem.
Dr. David Stall
Dr. David Stall
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Dr. SCOTT HARWOOD
Surgery - Oral & Maxillofacial

In brief: Yes

An x-ray doesn't actually show the abscess.
(x-rays show hard tissue structures. An abscess is soft tissue) the x-ray shows the bone loss resulting from the abscess in an area and a certain % of bone has to be compromised before it will show up.

In brief: Yes

An x-ray doesn't actually show the abscess.
(x-rays show hard tissue structures. An abscess is soft tissue) the x-ray shows the bone loss resulting from the abscess in an area and a certain % of bone has to be compromised before it will show up.
Dr. SCOTT HARWOOD
Dr. SCOTT HARWOOD
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Dr. James Wright
Dentistry

In brief: Yes

Before the abscess is visible on an x-ray it may start causing pain.

In brief: Yes

Before the abscess is visible on an x-ray it may start causing pain.
Dr. James Wright
Dr. James Wright
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Dr. Colin Kerr
Family Medicine

In brief: Dental abscess

Yes. In the early stages, dental abscesses can be missed on xray.
Often we treat with antibiotics just in case and repeat the xray in a few weeks.

In brief: Dental abscess

Yes. In the early stages, dental abscesses can be missed on xray.
Often we treat with antibiotics just in case and repeat the xray in a few weeks.
Dr. Colin Kerr
Dr. Colin Kerr
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