Four Things You Need To Know About Periodontal Abscesses

While many people think that it's normal to have red, swollen gums or to notice pink in the sink after you brush or floss your teeth, this is actually a sign of periodontal disease. When periodontal disease is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as periodontal abscesses. Here are four things you need to know about periodontal abscesses.

What are periodontal abscesses?

An abscess is a pocket of pus that is trapped within a tissue, and a periodontal abscess refers to an abscess within your gum tissue.

If you have a periodontal abscess, you will notice that you have a swollen lump on your gums, and this lump will hurt when you touch it. You may also feel a throbbing pain coming from the area of the lump. The abscess may rupture on its own or due to the pressure of chewing or brushing your teeth, and when this happens, you'll notice a foul-tasting liquid inside your mouth.

How does periodontal disease cause them?

To understand how periodontal abscesses form, you must understand what causes periodontal disease in the first place. You develop periodontal disease when plaque — a biofilm that accumulates on your teeth — isn't removed by brushing or flossing and is allowed to harden, becoming tartar. Tartar is full of bacteria, and worse, it can't be removed at home. For as long as the tartar remains on your teeth, its bacteria will irritate your gum tissue and lead to inflammation and infection.

The bacteria may build up in the pockets between your gum tissue and your teeth, and since it's hard to clean these pockets, the bacteria will continue to multiply. Pus forms in these periodontal pockets, and as the infection spreads, the collection of pus becomes larger. The infection then continues to spread into surrounding gum tissue, and you're left with a periodontal abscess.

How are periodontal abscesses treated?

If you develop a periodontal abscess, your dentist will need to drain the pus. This is a fairly simple procedure, so there's no need to be scared. Your dentist will first numb the area with an injection of local anesthesia, and then they will gently puncture the lump on your gums with a surgical scalpel. The pus will then seep out of the cut, and your dentist will use a saline solution to wash out the area. They may also rinse out the area with an anti-bacterial solution to make sure that the bacteria within the abscess pocket is gone. You may also need to take antibiotics to make sure that the infection is fully treated.

After your periodontal abscess is gone, your treatment is not over. Your dentist will need to treat the periodontal disease that led to the abscess in the first place. If you do not seek treatment for periodontal disease, you may develop another abscess in the future.

Treating your periodontal disease will involve thoroughly cleaning your mouth. Your dentist will scrape away plaque and tartar from beneath your gum line, and they'll also smooth the surface of your roots to encourage your gums to heal and reattach to your teeth. If your gum disease is very severe, you may need to have surgery. Your dentist will cut your gums to access the plaque and tartar that is trapped beneath them, and then your gums will be sewn back in place.

While you may not think that your red, swollen gums are a big deal, if you don't seek dental attention, periodontal disease could lead to serious complications like periodontal abscesses. If your gums are inflamed or bleed when you brush your teeth, see a dentist, such as those at Arrowhead Family Dentistry S. M. Bhatt DDS Inc., right away to get the problem under control.