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FAQ: “My Gums Are Swollen Above a Tooth — Do I Have an Abscess?”

Best Dentist Pasadena CAIf you notice a ball of swelling around or above a single tooth, an infection could be brewing. This type of infection is also known as an abscessed tooth — and it can be pretty painful. If left untreated, it’s possible for the infection to spread to other parts of the body.

Causes of an Abscessed Tooth

When a cavity is left untreated, the inner pulp of the tooth can become infected. This infection can spread into the gum tissue around the tooth, which creates an abscess. An abscess can also be caused when gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. This leaves open pockets where food can get trapped, causing an infection.

Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth

When a tooth becomes abscessed, you may experience a number of symptoms in addition to the swollen gums, such as:

  • Pain when chewing
  • A foul taste in your mouth
  • Swelling in the face or jaw
  • Fever
  • The tooth may be sore or very tender to the touch
  • You may notice a pus-filled pimple on the gums. This is called a draining fistula and may rupture
  • Throbbing or pulsating pain that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medications

How is an Abscessed Tooth Treated?

In these types of cases, I will clear the infection by draining the tooth and the bone and gum structures. You will likely also be prescribed a course of oral antibiotics. Once the infection is cleared up, I may perform a root canal to clean out the tooth pulp and canals, sealing the space with a special material to prevent any further infections. If a root canal is no possible, I may recommend extracting the tooth and placing a dental implant instead.

A tooth abscess is a serious condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible. Though home remedies may provide temporary relief, this is a serious condition that needs to be examined by us at THE SCIENCE OF SMILES® as soon as possible.


THE SCIENCE OF SMILES® offers affordable cosmetic and laser dentistry and gentle, compassionate general dental care in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures, complete dental reconstruction and TMJ/Headache management. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover affordable up-to-date dentistry and a team who truly cares at THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®.