What is a gum abscess and what causes it?

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An abscess is often compared to a pimple. Bacteria, immune cells, and dead tissue make up pus that fills a pocket and creates an infected bump called a fistula. The wall around the infection is your body’s way of containing it, but when the pressure builds, the infection may leak into your mouth.

Abscesses can develop in the jawbone (periodontal), inside a tooth (periapical), or in the gums (gingival). If an abscess develops on your gums, it may be because food, plaque, or another foreign object has become lodged in the gum tissue. Periodontal disease and a weak immune system can contribute to the development of an abscess. If not treated, the infection may enter the blood stream and spread to other parts of your body.

Any abscess is an urgent dental issue that requires proper treatment. Dr. Richard L. Rodgers and our team are known for providing outstanding, comfortable dental care. He is passionate about helping patients achieve and maintain good oral health through education and disease prevention. Call Dr. Rodgers, your midtown Atlanta, GA dentist, at 404-577-6620 to schedule your appointment today.

Common Symptoms of a Gum Abscess

Until the fistula ruptures, you will feel pain in the affected area of the gums and will most likely notice redness and swelling. When an abscess breaks open, pressure is relieved but infection spreads.

Indications of a gum abscess include:

  • Radiating pain
  • Throbbing
  • Pain while chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold substances
  • Sensitivity to pressure
  • Fever or illness
  • Pus discharge into mouth upon rupture
  • Salty taste upon rupture

As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, contact our office.


To diagnose a gingival abscess, the dentist will take an x-ray of the affected spot and inspect for pus, bleeding, swelling, and pain. If your abscess is periodontal or periapical, a tooth may need to be extracted.

If a gingival abscess is still intact, the first step in treatment is to drain the abscess through an incision in the gums. Dr. Rodgers will use a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable during the procedure. He may give you antibiotics to weaken the infection.

You’ll be given homecare instructions following your procedure. In short, you’ll need to use a saltwater rinse to help keep the affected area clean and medication to relieve pain.

Prevention of Gum Abscesses

Good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent a gum abscess. As you’ve been told since childhood brushing twice a day and flossing daily will remove plaque and deter many types of dental infections and disease. Adding an antiseptic mouthwash to your oral care routine will kill germs in the hard-to-clean areas of your mouth.

In addition to these steps, make sure to visit the dentist every six months. At these preventive checkup sand cleanings, the dentist will examine your teeth and gums to spot early symptoms of oral problems and to determine whether you need any restorative procedures.  The hygienist will clean your teeth and gums and keep a record of your gum health.

Contact Your Midtown Atlanta, GA Dentist Today

If you have a toothache or other symptoms of a gingival abscess, a visit to your dentist is vital. When an abscess goes untreated, the infection will not go away on its own—it can lead to serious health complications. Call Dr. Rodgers’ office today at 404-577-6620 for professional, gentle treatment.

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