Dental & Oral Health

All About Gum Abscess

Written by Dr. Vandita Mishra and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: All About Gum Abscess



Any abscess arising in the region of the gum can be due to either of the three causes:

  • Gingival abscess: This is the one that remains confined to your gum only and does not involve the deeper structures.
  • Periodontal abscess: This is the one that is due to a deeper problem and involves the structures that support your teeth.
  • Pericoronal abscess: This arises in the gums and usually does not involve the deeper structures but is called so as it arises around the teeth which have not yet completely erupted in your mouth, usually the wisdom teeth.

Why does a Gum Abscess Occur?

Reasons for formation of a gum abscess in the cases as mentioned above:

Gingival abscess - This occurs in a healthy gum due to sudden trauma, like if a food particle gets stuck accidentally in the gum region as for example while biting an apple, or if the dental floss is used with excessive force. Any such incident leads to acute pain and should be reported immediately.

Periodontal abscess - This occurs in a tooth which is already weak and has lost its supporting structures (periodontium). This can present in an acute or chronic form and its presence can lead to the enhancement of the already existing disease and so this needs to be reported immediately.

Periocoronal abscess - This occurs due to trauma or infection around a tooth which has not yet erupted, mostly an unerupted wisdom tooth.

Periapical abscess - A decayed tooth which has been overlooked for a long period of time will result in severe pain, usually leading to a periapical abscess. The support of the tooth is intact in such a case.

How to Know if you have an Abscessed Tooth?

Since the constant long term presence of such an abscess can result in damage to the structures that support your teeth it is important to recognize and treat these at an earlier stage so as to prevent any such untoward complications.

It is necessary to know that such a condition can be either acute or chronic.

Acute abscess will give rise to obvious symptoms such as:

  • Localized red swelling.
  • Tooth mobility.
  • You will feel the tooth to be elevated in the socket.
  • Pus can be seen coming out of the gum region.
  • Fever may be experienced.
  • Swelling and discomfort around the neck below the affected region may be seen.

Chronic abscess may not give extreme discomfort and so is usually overlooked by the patient though it should be noticed at the earliest so as to avoid tooth loss and further infection. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Dull pain and a slight feeling of discomfort in the region. Patient may feel like biting in that region relieves the sense of irritation.
  • Pus may be seen coming out in that region occasionally though.
  • Occasional bad taste in the mouth.
  • Slight swelling in the gum.

How to Treat an Abscessed Tooth?

Both acute and chronic abscesses need to be treated.

Acute abscess:

Such a presence, be it of any type would usually require antibiotics and pain killers to be taken to reduce the infection which should be taken after a prescription and not over the counter. Drainage of the abscess after administration of local anesthetic is needed which removes the cause.

Chronic abscess:

Antibiotics and pain killers are not needed in such a type until you are medically compromised, like if you have diabetes. Dentist will administer some local anesthetic and remove the pus along with the disease cause. In such a case it usually heals well with a good result. In longterm abscesses, the tooth would have lost most of its support and so, the tooth may need to be removed. Thus an early recognition and treatment is of much importance.

Pericoronal abscess:

Such an abscess since is formed around teeth which have not erupted, if the position of tooth is such that it will not erupt the teeth will need to be removed or if not so, antibiotics along with local drainage usually suffices. But, such problem may exist again if there is trauma again when the tooth erupts.

Periapical abscess:

Such an abscess will require the treatment of tooth decay which will need a root canal treatment and also antibiotics and pain killers have to be taken.

How to Prevent the Formation of such an Abscess?

Any abscess arising in the structures that support the tooth is the most detrimental and so it should be understood that its prevention is important, for which:

  • Visit your dentist every six months so as to make sure that any new arising disease can be immediately corrected.
  • Brush twice a day thoroughly and use dental floss regularly so as to make sure that you remove the causative agent for gum disease.
  • Rinse after each meal so as to prevent dental decay. Though if such a decay exists it should be filled immediately so as to prevent any such complication.

Do you have any of the symptoms mentioned above? Consult a dentist online for help -->

Last reviewed at: 27.Apr.2019



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