A periodontal abscess is a pocket of infection that forms in your gums. Anyone can get periodontal abscesses, but they’re more common in people with poor oral hygiene. Without treatment, the infection from a periodontal abscess can spread to other areas of your mouth and body, resulting in complications.
A periodontal abscess is a pocket of infection (pus) that starts in your gums. Other names for the condition include gum abscess and lateral periodontal abscess.
A periodontal abscess looks like a boil or pimple on your gums. It’s usually darker than other areas of your gum and looks swollen. The swelling can range from mild to severe.
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The most obvious symptom is a swollen bump on your gums. Many people experience pain or tenderness, but some don’t.
Other periodontal abscess symptoms may include:
A periodontal abscess forms when bacteria from your mouth invade the space between your teeth and gums. Gum disease is the most common reason why this occurs, and it’s the number one risk factor for periodontal abscesses.
You’re also more likely to develop a gum abscess if you have:
Risk factors for periodontal abscess include:
Left untreated, a gum abscess can lead to oral health issues, including:
Research suggests that bacteria from your mouth can travel to other parts of your body. In some cases, a periodontal abscess may be associated with:
Call a dentist right away if you think you have a gum abscess. Prompt treatment is key to avoiding complications.
A dentist will diagnose a gum abscess by:
A periodontal abscess is a dental emergency that requires prompt attention. Periodontal abscess treatments include:
You can’t treat a periodontal abscess at home. If you think you have a gum abscess, call a dentist right away.
Practicing excellent oral hygiene is the best way to reduce your risk for a periodontal abscess:
A periodontal abscess won’t go away on its own. It requires professional treatment.
Most periodontal abscesses aren’t life-threatening. But because the infection can spread, it’s important to treat it as quickly as possible. Though it’s rare, an untreated periodontal abscess can result in sepsis and other life-threatening conditions.
If you have a swollen, painful bump on your gums, you should schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. They can confirm your diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.
Call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room if you develop:
If you have a periodontal abscess, here are some questions you may want to ask your dentist:
While an abscess itself isn’t contagious, the bacteria that cause it can spread from person to person. Bacteria spreads through direct contact with infected saliva. If you have a periodontal abscess, you should avoid sharing cups, eating utensils and other personal items.
You should never, under any circumstance, try to pop a periodontal abscess. If you think you have a periodontal abscess, call a dentist right away.
No, you can’t treat a periodontal abscess at home. While some home remedies (such as warm saltwater rinses) can help ease discomfort, they can’t cure the infection.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A periodontal abscess is a pocket of infection that starts in your gums. Left untreated, a gum abscess can spread to other areas of your mouth and body, resulting in other complications. The sooner you treat the issue, the better. If you think you have a periodontal abscess, a dentist can help.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/05/2023.
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