Oct 11, 2015 News
By Dr. Neromini Fagu
I recently had an interesting conversation with a patient. She has a friend whose child gets gum boils frequently. The mother of the child would squeeze the boil only to have the boil return again. She wanted to know what can be done to avoid the recurrence.
Gum boil is a broad term that refers to various types of tissue overgrowth or swelling in the mouth. There are various reasons why people get gum boils. Gum overgrowth may be caused by the side effects of prescription medications, ill-fitting dentures, wearing braces, increased hormonal levels during pregnancy and a number of other reasons. Swellings may be due to a dental abscess or severe periodontal disease.
The main types of dental abscess are gingival abscess, periodontal abscess and periapical abscess. Gingival abscess is an infection in which a sac containing pus is formed at the gum line. It is caused by infection from bacteria that penetrate the gums after trauma or injury to your mouth.
Sometimes food particles get stuck in the gum line leading to a gingival abscess. Gingival abscess only affects your gum and not the tooth or the ligaments.
Periodontal abscess is caused by the excessive growth of bacteria in the space between the gum and the root of your teeth. It is commonly a result of advanced periodontal disease. Left untreated, this infection can cause irreversible damage to the nearby bone and ligaments, eventually leading to tooth loss.
A periapical abscess is due to a chronic infection of the pulp that has spread to the surrounding tissues.
Without a proper examination it would be hard to say the cause of the gum boil in the child mentioned above. However, if it is due to a dental abscess then the parents need to stop treating it at home and take the child to a dentist. The most common type of dental abscess is a periapical abscess. It usually occurs as a result of untreated dental caries, injury or previous dental work such as fillings.
If it is a baby tooth that is infected then there is a risk of infecting the unerupted adult tooth below.
Signs and symptoms of a periapical abscess include:
· Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache
· Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
· Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting
· Swelling in your face or cheek
· Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
· Sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting fluid in your mouth and pain relief if the abscess ruptures
· Gum boil filled with pus
The tooth abscess won’t go away without treatment. If the abscess ruptures, the pain may decrease significantly but you still need to seek dental treatment. If the abscess doesn’t drain, the infection may spread to your jaw and to other areas of your head and neck. Left untreated, you might even develop sepsis which is a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout your body.
If you have a weakened immune system your risk of a spreading infection increases even more.
The goal of treatment is to get rid of the infection. Your dentist may cut into the abscess to drain the pus. A root canal may be done to help eliminate the infection and save the tooth.
If the affected tooth can’t be saved it may have to be extracted. If the infection has spread to the nearby teeth, jaw or other areas, your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics to stop it from spreading further.
Avoiding tooth decay is essential in preventing a periapical abscess. Practicing good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups will go a long way to ensure you keep your teeth.
For more information contact Omni Dental on Tel: 227-0025 or email questions and comments to [email protected]
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