Gum and tooth abscesses are prevalent dental infections. According to proven statistics, abscess-related dental admissions at hospitals occur at 1 per 2500 per population in the United States. Gum and tooth abscesses are different infections, although they share some symptoms and treatment methods. The gum infection occurs on the gums while tooth abscess occurs in the tooth. Typically, both conditions are mainly caused by dental-related complications. For instance, poor oral hygiene is a widespread cause of tooth and gum abscesses. This article will mainly cover details related to gum abscess, including the proper steps to take when the infectious pocket pops by itself.
What is a Gum Abscess?
Also referred to as a periodontal abscess, a gum abscess is a pocket of pus in the gums that develop due to bacterial infections. It occurs more in adults than children due to weak gums are other dental disorders. The complication is a severe oral condition, thus requires immediate medical treatment. While the infectious pocket can rupture by itself, it is still crucial to seek medical attention. If left untreated, the condition can lead to other severe health diseases. For instance, an untreated or severe periodontal abscess is a potential cause of sepsis. This happens when a bacterial infection travels through the bloodstream. Sepsis is a condition that occurs when the body’s immune system damages the body tissues while fighting an already existing infection. The effects of sepsis include disrupted mental health and a drop in blood pressure. When sepsis develops, blood pressure may drop dramatically, thereby causing body organs to collapse. This has a high chance of causing death. That said, a gum abscess is a potential cause of death, especially if left untreated.
The Causes of Gum Abscess
Poor Oral Hygiene
One effective way of maintaining proper oral hygiene is regular flossing and brushing using the right supplies and equipment. This eliminates plaque buildup. Plaque is a thin, white film that forms on the surface of the enamel and between teeth due to the food and acids that we consume. The build-up eventually leads to the development of bacterial infection. By skipping the floss, plaque hardens under the gum line and develops into tartar. Since tartar is difficult to remove and filled with bacteria, it breaks down the bones that support teeth by invading the roots.
This is a common dental complication caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking, repeated use of some medications, and gingivitis, to mention a few. Periodontal disease increases the chances of gum abscess as it damages the soft tissue around the teeth and gums. As this happens, the gums start pulling away from the teeth. This results in the development of deep pockets, which are conducive hiding spots for bacteria. When food and tartar get stuck in these pockets, it is difficult to eliminate them, thus predisposing the surrounding tissues to bacterial infection and other pathogens.
Tooth decay occurs as a result of poor oral hygiene. Some of the food and drinks we consume contain acids that are erosive to the enamel. Due to poor maintenance or oral health by skipping regular brushing and flossing, the acids erode the enamel and leave hideouts for bacteria. This later results in tooth decay. When tooth decay is left untreated for a long time, one begins to experience pain. The pain may be a consequence of a gum abscess.
A weakened immune system makes your body susceptible to multiple infections. The human mouth has a vast number of germs. This is why experts recommend flossing and brushing at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. With a weak immune system, the body may fail to fight developing bacterial infections and other pathogens that lead to life-threatening situations. Coupled with poor dental hygiene, a weak immune system heightens the chances of having a periodontal abscess. It is, therefore, best to take care of your oral health regardless of the state of your immune system.
What if Gum Abscess Pops by Itself
When a gum abscess pops by itself, do not assume that you are healed and free from infection. Here are several important details to consider.
Seek Medical Attention
Keep in mind that a ruptured abscess can still spread infection. This is because not all the fluid may drain after the pocket pops. The situation can lead to life-threatening scenarios. For instance, the infection can spread to the back of the head, neck, and other locations in the body, thereby increasing the chance of developing sepsis. It is therefore essential to seek professional advice from your orthodontist. The health expert will assist by examining the depth of infection, draining the remaining pus, and cleaning the affected area to prevent severe infection.
It is also possible to use OTC drugs that relieve pain and other discomforts caused by the abscess. First, use antibiotics to suppress the infection. The effective OTC medications for gum abscesses, as recommended by dental experts, are NSAIDs. The popular ones are ibuprofen and naproxen. These medications relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Pressing an ice pack against the infected area numbs the pain and reduces inflammation. Ice is an effective home remedy for a gum abscess as it leads to blood vessel constriction, thus decreasing blood circulation around the area.
Garlic is famous for its antibacterial effects. According to expert nutritionists, garlic is most potent when it is raw. It provides a host of antioxidants and other medicinal compounds that boost the immune system, reduce pain, and lower blood pressure, among other health benefits. When applied to the area of abscess, garlic paste also helps in draining the fluid.
Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda has antibacterial properties. It is an effective remedy for removing plaque on the teeth and gums. Mix half a tablespoon of baking soda with half a cup of water, then swish for five minutes.
Similar to baking soda, saltwater also contains antibacterial properties. Mix half a tablespoon of pure salt with warm water and swish.
Note; home remedies are not enough to treat a gum abscess even if the pocket has already ruptured. Apart from seeking medical attention, the other treatments mentioned above are most appropriate after getting professional help or reducing sudden pain before a dentist’s visit.
A gum abscess is a complication that can cause other severe complications if left untreated. Even if painless, it is vital to seek professional medical help to know the way forward. Keep in mind that sometimes, a developing abscess may go unnoticeable until in later stages when it becomes critical. It is therefore wise to maintain proper oral hygiene and have regular dental checkups.