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A periodontal abscess is a pocket of pus in the tissues of the gum. It looks like a small red ball pushing out of the swollen gum.
An abscess can occur with serious gum disease (periodontitis), which causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. This leaves deep pockets where bacteria can grow. If tartar builds up too much, or if food gets stuck in the pockets, pus forms. If the pus can't drain, it forms an abscess.
An abscess can cause a fever and a throbbing pain in nearby teeth. It can also cause long-term damage to your teeth and gums. The teeth may get loose and fall out. The infection can spread to another part of your body.
In most cases, your dentist will give you antibiotics to stop the infection. He or she may need to cut open (lance) the abscess so that the infection can drain. This should relieve your pain. You may also need more dental treatment, such as tooth removal or oral surgery to fix bone damage caused by the abscess.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 25, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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