That swelling on your gum could be a gum abscess!

We often overlook gum problems. What more harm can it do to than losing our teeth? You will be surprised to know that gum disease, when not treated, can sometimes lead to severe complications and in rare cases, even be fatal! Read on to find out how.

When there is an infection or trauma inside your mouth, bacteria may enter into your gums and cause a painful swelling filled with pus. When the pus fails to drain out, the swelling increases and becomes more painful. This is called an abscess.

Poor oral hygiene is the prime culprit

Poor oral hygiene and regular intake of sugary or starchy food and drink boost bacterial growth. And health conditions like diabetes, which weaken your immune system,will only add to it.

Gingival abscess occurs when bacteria reach deep inside the gums due to any injury from toothbrush bristles or sharp piece of food and result in pus discharge.Gum disease can cause more than just red, swollen, bleeding gums. Most advanced stages of gum disease (periodontitis) as a result of the infection moving deeper into the supporting structures of tooth can cause periodontal abscess in the mouth.

periapical abscess (tooth abscess) occurs at the tip of the root of the tooth due to an infection of the tooth pulp as a result of untreated tooth decay.

The pain is almost unbearable

An abscess appears as a red swelling with a shiny surface that is painful to touch. It can cause continuous throbbing and pulsating type of pain which may make it difficult for you to identify the tooth that causes your distress. You may have extreme pain when pressure or warmth is applied on the affected tooth. The pain may also radiate to your jawbone, ear and neck. The abscess may be filled with pus.

The abscess won’t resolve on its own

You have to visit your dentist to get it treated. In the meantime over-the-counter painkillers may offer some relief from the pain.

The abscess can be successfully treated by eliminating the infection causing bacteria. Your dentist will make a cut and drain the pus from the abscess. He/she will  prescribe you antibiotics. Your dentist will also professionally clean your teeth and perform root planing (smoothing) to prevent further infections from occurring.

If untreated, it could become fatal

When an abscess is left untreated, the bacterial infection can spread and cause complications. An untreated tooth abscess can develop into a dental cyst (fluid-filled cavity) at the bottom of the root of your tooth.

Sometimes, small air-filled cavities inside your skull called sinuses may become infected through the abscess and cause sinusitis.

Ludwig’s angina is a potentially fatal condition that may be caused by spread of bacteria from the abscess into the floor of the mouth. It can cause swelling and intense pain under the tongue and in the neck. You may even find it hard to breathe if it becomes severe. It requires immediate emergency surgical treatment.

Very rarely, the infection from the abscess can spread to a large vein at the base of the brain (cavernous sinus) and form a blood clot. Called cavernous sinus thrombosis, this condition can be fatal.

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