Most abscesses are painful, so people usually seek treatment right away. Although on occasion the infection causes little or no pain. If an abscess is not treated, the infection can last for months or even years. It will not go away on its own, so it's important not to ignore the symptoms.
Gum and Tooth infections are referred to as abscesses and can form very quickly. Sometimes they form only one or two days after the infection starts.
- A gum abscess (also called a periodontal abscess) is typically caused by an infection in the space between the tooth and gum. The infection may occur after food gets trapped between the gum and tooth. In most cases the infections forms a small bubble on the gum that can be yellowish in color. In this instance you should seek professional assistant from a dentist immediately.
- A tooth-related abscess (also called a periapical abscess) occurs inside the tooth. This can be caused by trauma or an untreated cavity that has reached the tooth's nerve. If left untreated it can lead to bone loss and eventually the loss of the tooth. Sometimes there is little to no pain involved and it can be diagnosed only with professional dental x-rays.
If the infection is not treated, it can damage the surrounding bone and teeth. A hollow tunnel sometimes forms through the bone and skin to allow pus to drain. This tunnel is called a fistula or "sinus tract." You might see or feel this opening inside your mouth. It looks like a small pimple. If you have pus draining through a fistula, you might notice a strange taste in your mouth or a bad odor.
The buildup of pressure is what causes an abscess to be painful. Draining the abscess through a fistula can help to reduce the pressure. The pain may reduce however, the infection still needs to be treated. If left untreated it can lead to swelling of the face that will not subside until the cause infection has been addressed. In documented cases, the infection that causes an abscess has spread and lead to serious health problems and even death.