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Signs of a Gum Abscess

A young man with gray hair rubs his jaw while squinting in pain.
Author: mcymer Posted: July 29th, 2021 Category:

A gum abscess is a serious condition that can become dangerous without immediate medical attention. 

A gum abscess is a painful, potentially dangerous condition that results from an infection. It is often accompanied by swelling, pain, and redness, but not always — an early gum abscess might simply feel like a sensitive tooth. Because gum abscesses can be extremely painful and even life-threatening, you should address them as quickly as possible for your own wellbeing. This means visiting your dentist as soon as possible for treatment.

What Causes a Gum Abscess?

A gum abscess is a pus-filled infection between your gums and your teeth. Gum abscesses can be either periodontal or gingival, meaning they can affect either your inner gum tissue or the outer edge of your gums. 

An abscess occurs when bacteria enter the space between your gums and teeth, which leads to an infection in your gum tissue. Your body then fights the infection by sending white blood cells to the site of the abscess. Once the white blood cells die, they collect in the abscess as pus. 

The most common way for bacteria to enter your periodontal area is through plaque buildup. Bacteria from plaque can travel into your periodontal pocket through an opening in the gingival edge between your gum and your tooth, causing an abscess. For people who are immunocompromised, the risk of gum infection is higher than for standard patients.  

What Are the Symptoms of a Gum Abscess?

Occasionally, gum abscesses can present mild symptoms, like pressure or temperature sensitivity in a specific tooth. However, most abscesses are quite noticeable due to painful, consistent symptoms. 

Telltale signs of a gum abscess are redness and swelling around your gums, sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures, and sensitivity to touch. It is also common for the affected area to be painful when you bite down. 

Another common symptom of a gum abscess is pus. Since your infection is accompanied by a pus-filled pocket sealed inside your gums, you may notice pus leaking from the infected area. If you consistently experience a bad taste in your mouth, there’s a chance it could be because of an abscess. 

How Are Gum Abscesses Treated? 

For your health and safety, it’s important to treat a gum abscess as soon as you show symptoms. Like other infections, gum abscesses can lead to sepsis when left untreated — sepsis is a life-threatening condition in which an infection travels into your bloodstream. Common signs of sepsis include fever and a rapid heart rate. 

To identify an abscess, your dentist will examine your mouth and potentially take an X-ray. If your dentist finds an abscess in your gums, the first course of action is to clean up the infected area. This means draining pus from the abscess, which often involves making a small incision after administering a numbing shot. Your dentist will also remove plaque or tartar from the surface of your teeth. 

Once your abscess has been cleaned and drained, the bacterial buildup might be gone. With a simple course of antibiotics after cleaning, there’s a good chance your abscess won’t return. If there’s an additional source of infection in the area, like infected pulp, your dentist will need to perform additional procedures like a root canal or extraction. 

Maintaining Your Dental Health at Espire

If you’re showing signs of a gum abscess, don’t wait to visit a dentist. For expert dental care with a focus on patient comfort and convenience, come visit us at Espire. Our qualified professionals can walk you through your abscess treatment, from the diagnosis to eliminating the infection. Request an appointment at Espire today — your health is too important to wait!