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A periodontal abscess is a localized collection of pus within the gum, formed by the disintegration of tissue resulting from bacterial infection of the gums, and / or the tooth root(s) and its supporting bone.
Symptoms of a periodontal abscess are very similar to that of a periapical abscess
• Localised gum swelling; red and tender to touch
• Persistent, throbbing pain
• Tooth sensitive to heat and pressure during chewing
• Tooth with increased mobility
• Pus discharge (foul-smelling and foul-tasting fluid) if the abscess ruptures
If you have a toothache or notice evidence of an abscess on your gum, visit your dentist. Even if the abscess drains and the pain decreases, a visit to the dentist for complete treatment is crucial.
Practicing good oral hygiene can help prevent periodontal disease and hence periodontal abscesses. Since periodontal disease is usually "silent" regular dental check-up is important for early detection.
Periodontal abscesses differ from periapical abscesses in that the source of infection is the gum and the supporting tissues, and not the pulp. A periodontal abscess is related to:
• pre-existing gum disease (periodontitis)
• bacterial infection from a deep periodontal pocket
• trauma to the gum e.g. from food or debris embedded in the gum
A persistent infection from a periodontal abscess, can track from the deeper tissues of the gum to gain entry into the pulp. Infection of the pulp can therefore occur, even though the tooth has no evidence of decay. Such an infection is called an endodontic-periodontal lesion to reflect the duality of cause.
Successful treatment of a gum abscess focuses on the reduction and elimination of the source of infection. This begins with draining the abscess, which usually relieves pain and removes much of the infection. You may be prescribed antibiotics.The periodontal abscess will not be cured unless the cause is eliminated. A Periodontist will prescribe a range of treatment from deep scaling to root planning and gum surgery to treat the gum disease. If the abscess has also affected the pulp, then the tooth will also need root canal treatment as well.