Gum pain and swelling
If it hurts, it’s an emergency!
We aim to help all people with dental pain on the day they call our practice.
The latest dental technology and 30 years of experience means we are skilled at handling all emergencies including toothache, gum ache, denture repairs, broken or chipped teeth and painful wisdom teeth.
Relief is only a call or click away
There are two common causes of swelling of the gums?
- Most of the time pain associated with wisdom teeth is actually gum pain.
- An impacted tooth is one that only partially emerges from under the gums.
- The remaining portion trapped under the gum tissue collects debris and bacteria.
- A major flare-up of this condition can cause severe tenderness and swelling in the area behind the last tooth, difficulty in opening and closing your mouth, and sometimes a bitter metallic taste is present.
- Rarely, the swelling can spread to cause problems with swallowing or breathing.
- There may also be associated ear pain or a headache and at times jaw movements can be effected.
- This pain should be assessed as soon as possible. Rarely this can develop into a medical emergency.
What is an abscess?
An abscess is literally a pus-filled sac. It’s usually related to a long standing infection in or around the tooth. It can be very painful. If the underlying infection isn’t treated, it can spread further and you can lose your tooth or have other health problems.
What causes an abscess?
An abscess is generally related to a lack of proper and timely dental care.
People with underlying medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders or conditions that weaken the immune system (diabetes, chemotherapy or people taking immunosuppressive therapy) may be more susceptible to developing a dental abscess.
An abscess is related to an infection of:
(commonly referred to as the nerve)
Infection of the tissues inside the tooth can lead to a Dental abscess
- Damage to a tooth, or decay left untreated will eventually reach the pulp.
- If left unchecked the bacteria will over run the pulp and begin to effect the bone and tissues that surround the tooth. A flare-up of this infection will lead to pus collecting in the bone surrounding the tooth.
- If the pus remains trapped, pain will be intense. If the pus manages to work its way through the bone, it will collect as a lump under the gum tissue in the local area, with the resulting pain being less intense.
Infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth can lead to a gum abscess.
- A gum abscess is the result of underlying periodontal (gum) disease that has probably been present for a long time.
- It presents as a reddened swelling on the gum next to the affected tooth.
- Gum disease causes the gums and underlying bone to be damaged. As the attachment of the gums steadily moves toward the root tips, pockets form between the tooth and the gum. Bacteria collecting in this pocket can eventually cause an abscess to form.
What are the symptoms of an abscess?
- Throbbing pain, especially when you chew. It may even be very tender or sore to the touch.
- Red, swollen gums or bump in your mouth. The bump may have pus or blood oozing from it.
- A bad, bitter or salty taste in your mouth.
- Swelling in your jaw or face.
With an advanced infection, a dental abscesses can make you generally ill with nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills, sweats, difficulty swallowing, opening the mouth, or breathing.
- In extreme cases, a dental abscess can result in death:
- if it spreads to the brain, causes septicaemia (infection of the bloodstream), or
- if swelling obstructs the airway and compromises breathing.
What's the treatment for an abscess?
Dental abscess treatment
We will always try to provide active treatment on the day you call.
Sometimes treatment cannot be started immediately:
The tooth can be too painful to for us to touch.
Significant swelling may prevent the use of an anaesthetic.
You may not be ready for treatment, particularly if you have not slept or eaten well in the recent past.
If there’s any doubt that the treatment will be completely painless, we may ask you to settle the infection first with a course of antibiotics.
Strong painkillers may also be provided to get you through the first couple of days.
Active treatment involves either:
Gum abscess treatment
As described above in Dental abscess treatment, we may first have to settle the area with antibiotics.
Active treatment involves the careful and gentle placement of anaesthesia. Once we are certain this is effective, we will drain the abscess and remove the local pressure that is causing pain and swelling. This is done by cleaning the root surfaces of the exactly as we do during routine hygiene visits.