We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Gum Abscess?

By J.M. Willhite
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The localized formation of pus in the gums of the mouth due to a bacterial infection is a serious condition referred to as a gum abscess. If left to progress, an abscess in the gum may lead to a potentially life-threatening condition resulting in asphyxiation. Individuals who experience a swelling, discomfort, or irritation of the gums should immediately seek medical attention.

A gum abscess may form for a variety of reasons. In some cases, bacteria may enter the tooth and underlying gum by way of an existing cavity. Other people may develop an abscess as a result of trauma to the affected area caused by embedded food or other residual substances. Individuals with a compromised immune system may be at an increased risk of developing an abscess due to their inability to effectively fight off infection. Those who have periodontal disease may also develop an abscess as a complication of bone loss.

The abscess itself is comprised of an accumulation of pus resulting from infection. Initially, the abscess may present as a blister on the gum. The most serious danger occurs when the abscess is unable to drain, which can lead to the spread of infection to other parts of the neck and head area. In most cases, the abscess will drain outwardly, alleviating pain and discomfort. Despite the relieved pressure, dental treatment is still necessary to remedy the underlying problem of infection and eliminate the origin of the abscess.

Increased tooth sensitivity is generally a precursory indicator of abscess formation. The individual may experience discomfort when eating, drinking, or chewing that progressively intensifies, resulting in an extremely painful toothache. Additional symptoms associated with a gum abscess include swelling and discomfort of the lymph nodes in the jaw and neck areas.

A diagnosis is generally confirmed upon a visual and physical examination conducted during a dental visit. Aside from applying pressure to the swollen area, the dentist will usually conduct a pulp test to evaluate the state of the tooth. An X-ray of the affected area may also be performed to assess whether any further damage to the root of the tooth has occurred.

Treatment for a gum abscess initially involves the draining of infection. Once the pus is removed, the focus turns to saving the tooth. In cases where the root of the tooth has been sufficiently damaged, a root canal is generally performed to remove the affected tissue. Antibiotics may be prescribed to ensure the elimination of infection and a warm salt water rinse may be recommended to assist with healing. Individuals who experience a persistent gum abscess may need to undergo a surgical procedure to have it permanently removed.

Early detection and appropriate treatment are essential to a good prognosis. If the abscess is allowed to progress, it can swell to the point of impairing the person's ability to open his or her mouth. In cases where the infected area swells dramatically, it may result in the narrowing of the individual's airway, making breathing difficult and possibly leading to asphyxiation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Lodeseba — On Jan 15, 2014

Many people don't realize just how important gum health actually is.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.