Gum Abscess: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

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Your pearly whites need a great deal of care, and this means always being on guard against bad breath,cavities , and let’s not forget gum issues. While most of these dental issues can be dealt with easily, gum issues need special care and timely treatment. One of the most common gum issues that can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain is gum abscess.

Every part of the body is susceptible to infection, including your mouth. The gum abscess is a pocket of bacterial infection that resembles a gum boil and occurs either in the gums or in the space between the teeth and the gums.

Causes of gum abscess

Your mouth has good and bad bacteria, and this bad bacteria is responsible for unfavourable dental conditions like plaque and tartar , which eventually lead to tooth decay and other dental problems. When there’s an opening in the tissue, the bad bacteria enter the area and multiply, thereby causing an infection. As a response to this infection, the body deploys white blood cells to fight it. For this very purpose, the white blood cells cause swelling in that area to cut off and eliminate the bacteria. This results in a swollen, painful pocket of pus that is known as an abscess.1The common gum abscess causes include:

  • Compromised immune system:

    If your immune system does not function to its optimum, it makes you more susceptible to infections since you will have a tougher time fighting it off.

  • Poor oral hygiene:

    Often, gum issues arise from a lack of proper oral hygiene. If you do not brush twice a day or floss every day, the food lodged between your teeth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, and this eventually leads to abscesses.

  • Other infections:

    Other infections, most likely an abscessed tooth or an infection that occurs in the periodontal pocket, can cause gum abscess.

Symptoms of gum abscess

If you can decipher the very first signs of a gum abscess, it can help you seek timely treatment. The first symptom of gum abscess is the presence of severe and persistent pain in the affected area. Moreover, on opening your mouth, you might notice redness and swelling. Other symptoms include:

  • A loose tooth

  • Pus discharge

  • Pain while chewing

  • Bad taste in the mouth caused by pus discharge

  • Fever2

Stages of gum abscess

There are two types of gum abscesses: gingival and periodontal.

  • Gingival abscess:

    Gingival abscess affects the marginal gingiva, the edge that surrounds the teeth in a collar-like fashion.

  • Periodontal abscess:

    This condition causes a pus pocket and infection, but it also affects the tissues near the periodontal pocket. If left unchecked, this condition can affect the specialised connective tissue fibres that attach the tooth on one side (periodontal ligament ) to the part of the jaw that holds the teeth (alveolar bone).

How to prevent gum abscesses?

You can definitely opt for gum abscess treatment, but there are some effective measures that you can undertake to prevent the condition entirely.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day:

    This is perhaps the easiest way to prevent a gum abscess. It ensures that there aren’t any food particles stuck between your teeth. Plus, it even prevents the formation of plaque. The best way to protect your teeth and gums is to try Oral-B iO 8 Ultimate Clean Electric Toothbrush . Equipped with six Smart Modes that help personalise your brushing experience and gentle micro-vibrations, you get a fresh and clean mouthfeel with healthier gums. Moreover, the Smart Pressure Sensor turns red when you brush too hard and green when you exert the right pressure. This ensures that you go gentle on your teeth and gums.

  • Floss regularly:

    While brushing your teeth twice a day can keep your teeth and gums healthy, you need to floss regularly to remove stubborn food particles that cause plaque and tartar. Try Oral-B Essential Floss , which is created with a light wax coating to make sure that it glides easily. This shred-resistant floss helps clean plaque.

  • Use an anti-gingivitis mouthwash:

    Another effective way to prevent gum abscess is to use an anti-gingivitis mouthwash. It kills off the bacteria that causes the infection, and can also prove effective in preventing other dental issues.

  • Keep your dentist appointment:

    While sticking to good oral hygiene practices can help avert dental emergencies, it’s advisable that you visit a dental professional at least twice a year. This ensures that the tartar and plaque buildup that you cannot clean, is taken care of professionally.

Treatment for gum abscess

You need to opt for gum abscess treatment right away to reduce the risk of the infection spreading and alleviate the painful symptoms as well.

  • Dental procedure:

    While gum abscess looks like a gum boil, the treatment for it is quite different. Dental procedure treatment involves draining the abscess and removing any contaminants that might be lodged between the gums and the teeth. The dentist might make a small incision in the swollen area to drain it, and simply apply pressure to the area to remove the pus completely. In cases where the abscess has caused the breakdown of the bone, this can cause severe infection, which eventually leads to bone loss. In such circumstances, the dentist may recommend procedures to repair the bone and its surrounding tissues.

  • Antibiotics:

    The dentist might prescribe oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing infection or prevent it from spreading. These medications can even reduce swelling and pain in that area.

  • Home remedies:

    Though you still need to visit the dentist to get rid of the pus pocket, there are some home remedies that can help. An effective gum abscess home remedy is to rinse your mouth with salt water to reduce sensitivity and pain.

When to see a doctor for a gum abscess?

The best time to visit a dentist would be right when you start experiencing the symptoms. Do not wait for the situation to aggravate. Home remedies can offer temporary relief, but you still need to drain and treat the pus pocket to prevent further infections.

As serious as the condition sounds, you now know that it can be completely prevented if you practice good oral hygiene. Combine your good oral health practices with advanced dental care products from Oral-B and keep painful gum and teeth issues at bay.

Frequently-asked questions

  1. What does a gum abscess look like?

    A gum abscess occurs due to an infection, often caused by an untreated cavity, injury, or old dental work. It feels and appears unpleasant. It resembles a tiny red ball pushing out of the swollen gum and causes the gums to pull away from the teeth (in the case of periodontitis).

  2. Can one drain the gum abscess on their own?

    Mostly, the go-to gum abscess treatment is to drain the pus out completely. However, this has to be done by a dental professional and trying home remedies or other techniques to drain the abscess will only worsen the condition and cause the infection to spread beyond the abscess. So, do not try to drain the gum abscess at home.

  3. Does gum abscess go away on its own?

    While certain dental conditions can be dealt with using the right home remedies or by simply being more diligent about your dental hygiene practices, gum abscess is not one of them. The pocket of pus around the gums and teeth does not go away on its own. You’ll have to seek medical help immediately when you experience pain and discomfort.

Read more about how to brush your teeth and other oral care tips