Gum Abscess

Gum Abscess Symptoms:

A gum abscess may cause discomfort or pain when it occurs. A gum abscess usually appears within 24 hours after eating something with sugar or sweeteners. You may experience a burning sensation in your mouth, pain in your jaw area, and swelling of the lips.

The infection will spread to other parts of your body if left untreated.

The most common symptom of a gum abscess is pain in your jaw area. If left untreated, the infection will progress to affect other areas of your mouth such as your teeth, gums and tongue. Other possible symptoms include redness around the eyes, swelling of the legs or feet, fever and chills.

Treatment Options:

If you have any signs or symptoms that indicate a gum abscess has developed then seek medical attention immediately. There are several treatment options available to treat a gum abscess. These treatments vary depending upon the severity of the infection and its location.

Antibiotics – Antibiotic medications are used to kill off all bacteria that may be present in your mouth. They work best if taken within 72 hours of onset of symptoms. However, they can take up to two weeks before their full effect is felt and some antibiotics do not cure infections completely.

Lancing – A dentist or medical doctor may lance a gum abscess to drain the infection. This should only be done by a medical professional as it can cause the patient to bleed excessively.

Drainage – A dentist or medical doctor may place a small drainage tube into the abscess to drain the pus. The abscess may then be packed with gauze to absorb the fluid that comes out of the abscess.

Surgery – If the abscess is large or in an area that makes it difficult to drain using other methods, surgery may be the only option. The abscess will be cut open and all pus and infection will be removed. A dressing and bandage may be applied to cover the incision site.

Gum Abscess Causes:

A gum abscess is caused by a bacterial infection in your mouth that develops deep within your gums. The most common cause of a gum abscess is developing a tooth cavity or other dental problem such as tooth decay, cracked tooth or worn dentin. Other possible causes of a gum abscess include biting your cheek or tongue, accidentally swallowing a foreign object such as a small child’s toy or a broken tooth.

Gum abscesses are more common in people who do not take good care of their teeth or undergo poor dental hygiene. If you have a small crack, hole or deep decay near the bottom of a tooth then it is likely that bacteria has seeped in and infected the surrounding tissue. The bacteria release toxins into the area that cause swelling and redness.

Gum abscesses are more common in people who have diabetes or other conditions that cause poor blood circulation. The decreased blood flow makes it difficult for the body to heal itself.

Gum abscesses are sometimes referred to as a tooth abscess, however, they can also develop on the jaw bone. When a gum abscess develops on the jaw bone it is known as an osteomyelitis. This happens when bacteria from a tooth infection spreads into the surrounding jaw bone through the blood stream causing an infection.

Gum abscess can be difficult to detect. Some people only experience a mild swelling or small pimple like spot on their gums. Other individuals may experience a lot of pain, notice a lot of swelling and have a visible bump on their gums.

Gum abscess Prevention:

The best way to prevent a gum abscess is to practice good dental hygiene. This means visiting your dentist or hygienist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. Not only will this prevent cavities and tooth decay it can help to prevent other dental problems such as gum disease.

It is important to floss your teeth daily and brush in the morning and before bed. Don’t chew on one side of your mouth. If you do experience a toothache, swelling or other signs of dental problems contact your dentist immediately.

Gum abscess Symptoms:

Gum abscess symptoms vary from person to person. Some people have no symptoms while others experience a lot of discomfort or pain. Symptoms can also vary between a toothache, swelling, tenderness, redness and a visible bump in the gums.

Swelling – You may experience some mild to severe swelling in or around your gums. The swelling may be noticeable immediately around the tooth or it may be more noticeable when you touch the area.

Toothache – If you have a gum abscess you are likely to experience a lot of pain, typically described as a sharp throbbing pain. The pain may be located at the site of the abscess or it may be felt further afield, For example, you may feel the pain from your upper right molar all the way to your ear. This is because the nerve that supplies that area is located in your jaw.

The pain may also travel from the infected tooth, along your cheek, up to your eye or spread to the roof of your mouth or your lips.

Tenderness – When you touch the affected area you will experience a lot of sensitivity. If you gently poke your gum you will experience a lot of pain where the abscess is developing.

Redness – The skin in the affected area may appear redder than normal.

Bulge – You may experience a bulge or bump on your gums caused by the abscess. This may be visible or you may be able to feel it with your tongue or finger.

Bad Breath – A gum abscess can cause bad breath or a change in your breath. This is typically due to the collection of pus under the gums.

Gum abscess Diagnosis:

The type of dentist you see will depend on the severity of your condition. If you regularly visit your dentist or dental hygienist they may be able to treat your gum abscess. In some cases, you may be referred to an endodontist or an orthodontist.

These are specialized dentists that focus on problems with the tooth or surrounding bone.

Gum abscess Treatment:

The first port of call for treatment will be to the dentist or dental hygienist. They will check your teeth, gums and surrounding mouth for signs of tooth decay or disease. The dentist may perform a quick procedure such as a biopsy in order to determine the cause of your problem.

After the dental professional has determined the cause of your abscess and whether you need a more in-depth procedure such as root canal treatment or an extraction they may prescribe medication for you to take, typically antibiotics. Sometimes a dental cleaning may be required before more intensive treatment can take place.

There are a few over the counter home remedies available to treat gum abscesses but we strongly advise seeing a medical professional before trying any of these.

Herbal Teas – Certain teas can help soothe painful gums. These include chamomile and peppermint teas.

Over the counter painkillers and Antibiotics – If your dentist has prescribed painkillers or antibiotics for you make sure that you take these as directed. In addition to treating the pain they will also help to fight off any infection.

Warm Salt Water Rinse – This can soothe the pain of a gum abscess or any other sores in your mouth.

Natural Healing – Your body already has the ability to heal itself, if you give it the chance. It is often best to avoid invasive treatments such as root canals, tooth extractions and implants and opt for natural remedies such as the ones above as they help your body to effectively heal itself.

Make sure you practice proper dental hygiene as this will help to keep your gums and teeth healthy and decrease the risk of developing a gum abscess in the future. If you smoke, quit. Smoking weakens and damages the tissues of your mouth making you more susceptible to developing sores, sores that can lead to a tooth or bone infection.

Gum abscess complications:

If you have a gum abscess you can lead a fairly normal life however; if the affected gum won’t stop bleeding you should see your dentist as soon as possible. If the abscess does not drain naturally or is too large it may need to be drained by a dental professional. If this is the case they will numb the area first before cutting into the gum to release the pus.

If you feel a sharp tooth that is sticking into your tongue when you bite down you may have an impacted tooth, which could be the cause of your abscess. In this case, it would be best to see a dentist immediately.

If left untreated or treated improperly a gum abscess can lead to a serious condition called periapical , which is a more serious condition that involves the bone around the roots of your teeth.

Sources & references used in this article:

Multiorgan Involvement in a Complicated Case of Gum Abscess (Multiorgan Abscesses) by S Ayik, A Dalli, M Cekic, M Apaydin, O Senoz – J Clin Case Rep S, 2015 –

Gonococcal gum abscess in a 10-week-old infant by M Urban, AR Hervada – Clinical pediatrics, 1977 –

Electrotherapy for chronic gum and periapical abscesses by N Al-Waili – J Pak Med Assoc, 1989 –

The prevalence of dental impacts on daily performances in older people in Northern Thailand by P Srisilapanan, A Sheiham – Gerodontology, 2001 – Wiley Online Library

Oral impacts affecting daily performance in a low dental disease Thai population by S Adulyanon, J Vourapukjaru… – Community dentistry and …, 1996 – Wiley Online Library

Expert System for Problems of Teeth and Gums by MJ Abu Ghali, MN Mukhaimer, MK Abu Yousef… – 2017 –