A lateral periodontal abscess is a result of rapidly-growing bacteria
within a periodontal pocket. A periodontal pocket forms
in the presence of periodontal disease, as the gums become infected
and pull away from the surface of the teeth. This deepens the sulcus
- the space between the teeth and gums - to a space greater than three
millimeters. The deepened sulcus is called a pocket.
An abscess forms when the pocket deepens to the point that plaque bacteria,
tartar and/or food become trapped within it, and the body's immune system
cannot adequately combat the infection. A large swelling
develops on the gums as a result of this uncontrolled, rapid growth
of bacteria, bacterial products and infected gum tissue. As a result,
what occurs is a fast, painful destruction of the supporting
connective tissue and bone that surround the tooth.
Lateral periodontal abscesses form anywhere along the side of the gums
where the periodontal sulcus has deepened to become a pocket. They are
common in cases of advanced periodontal disease, when bone loss has
occurred as a result of the infection, because the pocket depth of five
millimeters or more creates an ideal environment for abscess formation.
Abscesses can be very painful, tender lesions that often appear suddenly.
Even small abscesses can produce a great deal of pain. Abscesses are
most common in those 40 years old and above, but occasionally occur
Lateral periodontal abscesses are smooth to the touch and range in diameter
from two to ten centimeters. In some cases, they form as a result of
an immune system disorder or deficiency, or uncontrolled diabetes.
A periodontal abscess is extremely destructive, and if not treated promptly,
can quickly result in irreversible damage to the surrounding ligaments
and bone, ultimately causing you to lose the tooth.
• The primary goal of treatment is to drain the infection; we
usually accomplish this by carefully scraping the pocket lining.
• We then remove the plaque and calculus adhering to the root
surface with scaling and root planing; this hopefully prevents a recurrence
of the infection.
• Antibiotics may be helpful in eradicating the infection.
• We usually prescribe pain medications to alleviate the discomfort
associated with the abscess.
• Once the abscess has healed, we recommend guided
tissue regeneration and/or osseous surgery; without this
definitive treatment, you are inviting future recurrence of the abscess.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
• Bad breath
• Bleeding tender gums
• Receding gums
• Periodontal pockets
• Loose teeth
• Spaces btw teeth
• Periodontal abscess
• Bone loss
• Tooth loss