What is a Periodontal Abscess?

We all know how important it is to look after the teeth and gums, yet unfortunately we also all know how difficult it can be.

We know the basics of good dental hygiene, I.E brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, dental check-ups etc, but there are countless other variables that may also come into play, and put our teeth and gums at serious risk.

Bacteria, for example, thrives in warm, moist, and dark locations and the mouth, therefore, is absolutely perfect for bacteria to breed and multiply. Accumulations of bacteria in the mouth can lead to all kinds of potential health issues, including periodontal abscesses.

But what is a periodontal abscess, what causes it, how can it be treated, and will it go away by itself? Well, that’s what we’ll be looking at in more detail below.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about periodontal abscesses.

What is a periodontal abscess?

To get things started today, we’ll begin by looking at what a periodontal abscess is.

A periodontal abscess is a type of infection characterised by a pocket of pus located within the tissue of the gums. If you imagine a small red ball trying to force its way out of the gums, that's pretty much what a typical periodontal abscess looks like.

While these abscesses can occur for all kinds of different reasons, more often than not you’ll find that they occur as a result of serious gum disease (periodontal disease) which causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. This then leaves open cavities which provide the perfect location for bacteria to grow. Overtime, this bacteria will build up and will cause an infection, resulting in an abscess on the gums.

Will a periodontal abscess go away on its own?

If you suffer with a periodontal abscess, you are going to need to contact your dentist and arrange an appointment as the abscess won’t go away on its own without treatment.

The abscess is most likely caused by an infection, which may require antibiotics to kill it off.

The abscess may burst and the pain will subside but overtime, bacteria will accumulate again, the pus will build again, the abscess will reappear, and the cycle may repeat itself over and over again.

How do you get rid of a periodontal abscess?

Okay, so we’ve looked at what is a periodontal abscess and have established that one of these abscesses won’t go away by itself, so what can we do to get rid of them?

Here’s a look at a few treatment options for people suffering with periodontal abscesses.

Drain the abscess

One of the most effective ways of getting rid of a periodontal abscess is to drain it.

Make an appointment with your dentist and have them drain it. Here, they will make a small incision in the gums to allow all of the pus to drain away. They will then clean the affected area with a saline solution.

If the infection is particularly bad, a drain will be placed to ensure the wound remains open to allow the pus to drain away.

Pull the tooth

Sometimes an infected tooth may be responsible for an abscess. If this is the case, your dentist will extract the tooth, clean the open cavity, and the abscess should go away.

Root canal

A root canal procedure could not only help clear up a periodontal abscess, but it may also help to save your tooth.

Here, your dentist will drill into your tooth, extract the infected dental pulp, and then seal the tooth and cap it.


If the abscess is caused by an infection of the gums, the only way to kill the infection for good will be with antibiotics.

Your dentist will prescribe antibiotics to not only destroy the abscess, but to also ensure that it doesn’t spread to other parts of the gums, or to other parts of the mouth.

What are the possible causes of a periodontal abscess?

While there are many potential causes of periodontal abscesses, typically you’ll find that the most common causes of this condition are either a build-up of bacteria in the mouth, gums, and/or teeth, or things such as impacted wisdom teeth, or impacted foreign bodies in the mouth or under the gums.

How long does a periodontal abscess take to heal?

As mentioned, a periodontal abscess will not heal by itself. In order for the abscess to heal you will need to undergo professional treatment to get to the cause of the problem, and you will likely also require antibiotics.

With that said, if you do take antibiotics and/or undergo professional dental treatment, it will typically take around 1 – 2 weeks for the wound caused by the abscess to fully heal.

What’s the difference between a periodontal abscess and a periapical abscess?

There are actually two types of dental abscesses, and although an abscess is an infection, a periapical abscess begins at the root of a tooth, whereas a periodontal abscess occurs in/on the gums.

Book your appointment today

If you’re suffering with a periodontal abscess, or any other dental issues for that matter, don’t suffer in silence, pick up your phone and contact us here at Tuart Hill Dental today.

We can diagnose abscesses, decayed teeth, and countless other dental issues and can prescribe the necessary treatments and procedures to have you back to 100% in no time at all.

Don’t let a periodontal abscess get you down, book a consultation with us now and let us handle the rest.

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