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Is a gum abscess an emergency?

A gum abscess may sound like an emergency, but in reality, it’s rarely life-threatening and can be treated at home with basic over-the-counter remedies. The following article will explain what gum abscesses are, what causes them, and how you can get relief from them quickly and effectively at home.

What is a Gum Abscess?

A tooth or gum abscess is a painful infection caused by trapped, infected tissue. You can get it when plaque builds up under your gums and releases bacteria into your mouth. Minor swelling and redness around your tooth are early signs of an infection.
The swelling may spread beyond your tooth and cause pain or tenderness in your face, ear, jaw, or neck. You might also feel nauseated, have bad breath, or lose weight without trying. There are usually two causes of a dental abscess: periodontal disease (gum disease) and trauma from biting yourself (biting on foreign objects can easily cause damage to gums).
Gum abscess may not be life-threatening, but it can be excruciating and lead to more severe problems if not treated right away.

Signs that You Have Gum Abscess

In fact, there are several signs that indicate you might have one:

✓  Inability to chew on one side of your mouth
✓  Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold foods/drinks on that side of your face/mouth
✓  Tenderness in that area (especially if it moves)
✓  A fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours straight (or as long as you’ve had pain)

When should you see your dentist?

Not all dental problems are emergencies, but if you feel extreme pain in your mouth or experience any other symptoms of serious dental disease, see your dentist immediately. For example, if you notice an area of swelling in your mouth that’s hard and painful to touch, it could be a tooth abscess.
A tooth abscess can cause throbbing and localized pain and nausea and vomiting. In some cases, teeth even feel loose in their sockets because of infection. If you have these symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate treatment from a dentist so that they can drain the pus and prevent further complications like sepsis.

How is Gum Abscess treated?

There are two ways to treat a gum abscess. The first is to have it drained in your dentist’s office. Another method is to do it at home with over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen and warm salt water rinses. To do it at home, you’ll need some gauze, hydrogen peroxide, salt, and a syringe—all of which can be purchased from your local pharmacy without a prescription. Some dentists recommend placing something cold on top of your jaws like ice or cold water, because that can help reduce swelling and relieve pain when rinsing out your mouth.

How To Prevent Gum Abscess

The only way to prevent abscesses from developing is to keep your gums healthy and free of plaque buildup. This can be done by brushing and flossing daily and making sure that you’re seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. For teeth in especially bad shape, consider using dental fillings or even implants; these will help prevent future disease processes. In addition, if you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, it’s time to quit. Both are associated with oral cancer and should be avoided at all costs. Smoking has also been linked to cardiovascular problems, which can negatively impact overall health, including preventing wounds from healing properly after surgery.


A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that has formed between your tooth and jawbone. In most cases, these pockets will resolve independently with proper treatment. While waiting for treatment, pain medication can help reduce discomfort from an infected tooth or gums. If you suspect you have an abscess, make sure to get in touch with us today, so we can treat it before it becomes severe.