gum abscess

Difference between a tooth abscess and gum abscess

Often times when someone is told they have an abscess in their mouth they are confused about exactly where it is. Many wonder what the differences are between a tooth abscess and a gum abscess. In this article, we will go deeper into the differences between the two and the treatment options available. 

Tooth Abscess

An abscessed tooth is an infection caused by tooth decay, periodontal disease, or a crack in the teeth. These problems can let bacteria enter the vulnerable areas of a tooth, which can lead to tooth pulp death. When pus builds up at the root tip in the jaw bone, it forms a pocket called an abscess. 

Gum Abscess

Gum abscesses are slightly different from tooth abscesses, though they may share some of the same symptoms and treatments. A gum abscess is an infected pocket of tissue in the gums.

There are two main types of gum abscess: gingival and periodontal.

  • Gingival abscesses only occur in the gum tissue. They do not involve the teeth at all. They may occur if a sharp piece of food gets lodged directly into the gums and causes an infection.
  • Periodontal abscesses occur in the space between the teeth and the gums. In gums, an abscess can form around the soft tissues that surround your tooth when periodontal disease is severe. 

Treatment Options

If an abscess is not treated, it can lead to serious problems. Not taking proper care of your teeth and gums can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth abscess, and other dental and mouth complications. Also, frequently eating and drinking foods rich in sugar, such as sweets and sodas, can contribute to dental cavities and turn into an abscess.

  • Antibiotics, to destroy the bacteria causing the infection
  • Drainage of the infection
  • Cleaning the space between the tooth and the gum if the cause is from gum disease
  • Root canal treatment if the abscess is caused by decay or a cracked tooth

Following good oral hygiene practices and routine dental exams will significantly reduce your risk of developing a tooth or gum abscess. Sometimes it is difficult for you to know if the source of the abscess is a tooth or gum. The only way to know is for your dentist to diagnose the source of the infection during an in-office dental exam. Contact our office if you have any questions or concerns. 



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