A woman holding her head, not feeling well.
Badge field

Tooth Abscess & Gum Abscess

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If you have an abscessed tooth or an abscess on your gum, your body is saying, hey, there’s something going on here that needs your help! It’s also a sign that things are working the way they should. Here’s what can cause those types of oral abscesses and what you should do (right away!)

What Causes a Tooth Abscess?

Tooth decay, a cracked tooth, and periodontal disease can cause your tooth to form an abscess. Tooth related abscesses occur inside the tooth (known as the pulp) and will appear at the tip of the tooth’s root before spreading to the bone. If left untreated, it can lead to the death of your tooth. And if that doesn’t sound serious enough, it can turn into an even bigger infection in your jawbone, surrounding teeth, and gum tissues.

Red & Swollen Gums?

If you find a red swollen lesion along your gumline, you might have a gum abscess. Often, food items (such as a popcorn hull) can get stuck in between your teeth and gums, causing an abscess. Bacteria can be the culprit as well. It can cause facial pain and swelling. If you suffer from periodontitis (gum disease), you're at a greater risk for developing a periodontal abscess. If you think you have a gum abscess, don’t ignore it. In fact, call your dental office to get in as soon as possible. Left untreated, a gum abscess can damage your teeth and bones.

How Do I Know if I Have an Abscess?

Sometimes you can have an abscess and few symptoms. It’s still important to get it checked out right away. The infection will not go away on its own. Symptoms may include:

  • Gum or facial swelling
  • Redness of skin over abscessed gum
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Feeling unwell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Throbbing or severe toothache
  • Pain while chewing

The infection may swell and build up enough for the pus to drain on its own. That does not mean you’re cured. You should still see your dental professional.

Don't Worry! Let's Get It Treated.

Gum abscesses heal quickly once treated. Will a tooth abscess go away with antibiotics? Probably not. However, an abscessed tooth can take longer, depending on how bad your infection is. Here are possible treatments for all types of abscesses.

  • Antibiotics
  • Your dental professional will drain and clean the abscess
  • If it’s a gum abscess from gum disease, you’ll need to have the space between your teeth and gums cleaned
  • Possible root canal for abscess caused by a decayed or cracked tooth
  • For periodontal abscess, a periodontist will need to be consulted for a deep cleaning and/or surgery may be needed to get rid of the infection
  • If you have a fistula, your dentist will x-ray to find the infection source

Tooth decay, cracked tooth, and periodontal disease can cause infections that can lead to abscesses. If you think you have an abscessed tooth or gum, don’t panic. But also, don’t wait. Both can damage your teeth and gums if you ignore them. Prevention goes a long way too. So keep up with good home oral care and routine dental appointments.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

paper airplane

Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now

Mobile Top Image
Was this article helpful?

Thank you for submitting your feedback!

If you’d like a response, Contact Us.

Mobile Bottom Image