If you are experiencing recurring swelling on your gums, especially one area in particular, you may have periodontal gum disease. Gum infections can be a sign of bigger problems and should never be ignored. One of the hallmarks of this disease is an acute periodontal or gum abscess which manifests as a swelling on the gum next to an affected tooth. Symptoms vary in individuals from virtually no pain to being quite painful. Visually, the area of the gum is inflamed, enlarged and/or reddened. In addition, the tooth may be slightly tender to bite on, and could also be associated with a loosened tooth. These symptoms do differ from a root, or nerve, abscess which originates from a root canal infection and is usually intensely painful. This pain tends to be more general in nature and not focused on a specific tooth.
What Is a Periodontal Abscess?
An abscess is the result of an underlying periodontal disease which has probably been present for some time. Once this abscess, literally a pus-filled sac, is present the disease is considered chronic and should be addressed immediately. Diseases such as diabetes or even a common cold or flu can precipitate an abscess as going through stressful periods or having underlying diseases can affect your immune system and lower your resistance. If you have an abscess, consult your dentist regarding treatment sooner than later.
Some Questions to ask your Dentist
- Does a gum abscess cause irreversible damage?
- Is treatment expensive?
- Should I try to drain the abscess myself?
- Should I see my physician as well as my dentist?
Periodontal Abscess Treatment Plan
The treatment plan for an abscess is pretty straight-forward and simple. The main goal is to establish drainage of the infected area. Your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area and quickly pierce the abscess to allow drainage of the infection. He/she will then carefully clean the infected root surfaces using an irrigation process. This entails flushing the area with saline and/or antibacterial solutions to remove any bacterial contamination left behind. Afterward, you will most likely be prescribed a course of antibiotics and mild non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (Aspirin or Ibuprofen) as a follow-up to control pain and swelling.
The control of symptoms is quick and quite dramatic following this simple procedure. Once the abscess has initially healed, which usually takes from a few days to a week, it is extremely important to follow up with your dental care professional to address the underlying periodontal (gum) disease which led to the initial abscess. As part of your evaluation, your dentist (and subsequently perhaps your physician) will check your overall health to see if there is a general health condition that could be a contributing factor to your periodontal issues.
If you suspect you may have periodontal gum disease, don’t hesitate to contact your dental care professional to have your periodontal status reviewed and treated. Healthy gums and teeth are a reflection of your overall health. Be sure they’re in peak condition!
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About Tri-State Family Dentistry
Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.