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Is it an abcess, is it gum disease? I’m so confused!



Junior member
Aug 26, 2020
United Kingdom
Hi lovely dentists! Firstly I want to thank those of you that replied to my last posting on here a year ago, it helped me so much I actually went to the dentist regularly to sort out some underlying issues I had. My dental fear eased hugely and I found a patient and kind dentist who is amazing. So things were going great…however, I’ve had a crappy year personally and I had to put off my final 2 fillings for a couple of months because I was nursing my terminal grandfather and then moving house and then my aunt died so it was a whole drama. ANYWAY, to the point - I had some pain in my gum around the teeth that need filling just under 2 weeks ago (nothing intense, mainly soreness and discomfort) but I couldn’t get an appointment with my dentist and 111 (over cautious as always) booked me in with an emergency dentist just in case it was an abscess.I went along, and this dentist was kinda rude but oh well, as long as they do the job I don’t really need them to be nice. She had a poke around and pressed the teeth with the cavities and I didn’t feel any pain, she then pressed the gum and I winced and it bled. She did an X-ray and told me it was not an abscess and that the teeth were not decayed close enough to the pulp and no infection was in the tooth and it was gum disease and to salt water and floss throughly and keep great dental hygiene. She told me that yes the fillings did need doing but that they would be okay for a little while until I could get into see my regular dentist. Okay fine, I can deal as my tooth was not hurting, just the gum and I could deal with that. So I came to visit my parents for a week and the gum was not improving despite my efforts. I had an anxiety attack this morning (anxiety has been high due to stress and grief and I own up to this) so I decided to go to the dentist I’m registered at near my parents home. First off he refused to X-ray it as it was only X-rayd last week and he didn’t want to expose me to unnecessary radiation so he asked me to tell him exactly what the other dentist had said. So I passed that information on and he took a look and said it is an abscess because the decay on my tooth goes up underneath the gum and gave me some antibiotics. I am taking them but all this has stressed me out getting conflicting information! The gum is red and tender and slightly swollen, but I was always told abscesses are huge and they swell up your face. I’m now panicked about getting sepsis from the abscess because everyone loves to scare you with that. I can’t get booked in with dentist until 27th October as she is away on holiday. Will I be okay until then? He’s given me amoxicillin 3x a day for 5 days. I’ve attached a photo of it helps, yes I know my teeth aren’t great but I was working on that until all this lol. Thank you in advance for any replies!


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Sorry can't really tell anything from the photo.
There is absolutely zero risk of getting any kind of sepsis from a dental infection. I do wish people would stop spreading this bollocks on the internet.
You'll be fine until the 27th.
Hi Gordon,

thank you for your reply! It made me crack up laughing so it helped more than you know. I’ll hold out until the 27th and dutifully take my pills as prescribed. ?

you’re a legend thank you!
@Gordon update, it’s neither gum disease nor an abscess. It’s pulpitis but was presenting weird because my tooth is apparently “unique” and the nerves are not in the expected place. So a tiny cavity was enough to hit the nerve, there was no sign of infection, just very unhappy pulp. She cleaned out the decay, put some antibacterial stuff in there and put a sedative dressing on it. It’s less painful now, just a dull ache and a slight bruised feeling. Unfortunately the temp filling is a bit big and I can’t even chew on the other side of my mouth without it hitting my bottom teeth but I’ll call and ask for her to fix that. My only concern now is getting an actual abscess as I’m so sick of being in pain, is that possible at this point even with the zinc in the temp filling meant to be antibacterial?

Thanks in advance, your answers always really help my anxiety :)
@Gordon My only concern now is getting an actual abscess as I’m so sick of being in pain, is that possible at this point even with the zinc in the temp filling meant to be antibacterial?

Thanks in advance, your answers always really help my anxiety :)

It can't be totally ruled out unfortunately, depends if the nerve recovers from this incident or not. Sadly I can't make even a good guess without at least seeing you.
Ah okay, thanks Gordon. I’m on my way now to have the bite corrected, my tooth has started to go grey also which is really scaring me. I just want the thing pulled out at this point.
Post an update when you get the chance, I'm curious as to what happened. Thanks.
Hi Gordon,

I went back and she smoothed out the filling and gave me antibiotics just in case I got an signs of infection. Which I did as last night in my mouth all I could taste was disgusting pus and today I have random shooting pains around the tooth. I’m started my antibiotics this morning (metronidazole) and I’m gonna call them and ask them to just rip the thing out. I’ve had enough of being in pain. She said the tooth turning grey was because the nerves were dying (maybe that’s what the random shoots are?). But yeah, had enough of this tooth now lol.
She said the tooth turning grey was because the nerves were dying (maybe that’s what the random shoots are?)
Yes, probably. Be careful with the metronidazole, mixing it with alcohol will make you very nauseous!
Yes, probably. Be careful with the metronidazole, mixing it with alcohol will make you very nauseous!
Thanks Gordon, I’ve had to take it before and was warned I’d end up in hospital if I drank so I have no intention of being anywhere near alcohol! :)
Me again! So I’m booked in for a root canal at the end of November and I’m surprisingly fine about it (I think the intense pain and anxiety from the pain made me so relieve it’ll be sorted I’m okay about it. I met the specialist and she calmed me down a lot so that’s helpful. HOWEVER ??‍♀️, the gum around my back left wisdom tooth got really sore and swollen all of a sudden and my jaw was a bit tender. I figured I’d pissed it off because I’m only eating in the left side of my mouth because of the temp filling in the tooth needing an RCT. My husband said it had a white dot and looked like an ulcer so I salt watered and it calmed down in terms of pain, just slightly tender when touched. But it doesn’t seem to be going down and it now looks like a full blown spot?! Is this a bloomin abscess? I’m beyond fed up with teeth issues now and the tooth itself isn’t painful at all. Just the gum is tender/swollen and just under my jaw. I managed to get a picture and am gonna speak to the dentist tomorrow but just wanted an opinion if you have time please @Gordon? Added a pic to show the swelling versus the other side.


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Sorry been away on grandad duty. It looks like a typically swollen operculum (the wee flap of skin over a wisdom tooth). Salt water rinse is good. The problem is that a bit of food can get rammed under the flap, sets off a little local infection, which makes the operculum swell up, which brings it in range of the upper teeth, it gets chewed on, which makes it swell more and so on you go...
Get the swelling down with salty rinses, if you feel really adventurous get a syringe and squirt some salty water under the flap gently to clean it out.
Hi Gordon, sorry for the late reply! I spoke to my dentist on Tuesday morning, flushed it with a dental syringe and the white spot disappeared and a chunk of food came out (not pleasant ?). Within a couple of hours the swelling was down a lot and I kept gently flushing/rinsing for a few days and it’s all good now! Plus I have my dental syringe handy if it happens again. :) thank you for replying! Hope you enjoyed grandad duty!
Thanks for the update.

Grandad duty is always fun, I'm biased of course but Nate is the cutest 2 year old in the world :)
Thanks for the update.

Grandad duty is always fun, I'm biased of course but Nate is the cutest 2 year old in the world :)
I have no doubt he is! My parents adore grandparent duty, my brother has 4 children so it’s very busy! ?

Thank you for all your advice, I’m now waiting on my RCT on the 29th November and the tooth/gum around it flares up and down but it’s mostly good and your advice and being open and honest with my dentist has helped me reduce my dental phobia quite a bit so thank you ?
Hey @Gordon just thought I’d give you an update! So I had my root canal done on Monday with the specialist, she got it all done in one 2 hour appointment and was incredibly thorough. This endo has a great reputation (0% failure in the last 10 years so far so I’ll take that!) and she was patient, thorough and very skilled. She did 3 X-rays throughout, one after she’ cleared the canals, one after the gummy stuff was put in and one at the end of the treatment when the filling was put in. She mentioned I had very slight calcification but she wasn’t concerned as it’s minor and she felt she managed to clean and seal it perfectly fine irrelevant if that. I have no pain in the tooth at all, not even when biting down so I’m happy about that and proud of myself for getting through it!

I’m now 2 days later and I’m getting concerned so instead of going all anxious Annie I thought I’d ask you if this is normal.

I have some cheek aching and slight jaw ache and I blew my nose earlier and it was yellow (sorry for the visual lol) but that made me unnerved that it’s infected still? My gums around it are slightly tender and the roof of my mouth where she injected is a bit sore but feels more like a bruise than anything else. Am I being silly and need to be more patient and just let my body heal or should I be concerned?

Thanks again for always being helpful!!
Well done you, that sounds like a perfect root canal, not having even slight tenderness on biting down is a real win, quite often they are a bit tender for a few days after the root treatment. See root canal FAQ on here if you want.
No need to be concerned, having somebody poke about in your tooth for a couple of hours is going to give you some aches and pains later on, your muscles and jaw joint will need a bit of time to get over it, being un-naturally still and wide open for such a long time (relatively).

Not sure why you're getting a yellow discharge from your nose, but it's definitely not tooth related :)

It would be reasonable to take some mild pain relief for the aches and pains, ibuprofen or similar if your stomach can handle it. If it's really annoying then some ice packs/heat packs can help too. Otherwise just let things heal up in their own good time.
I’ve only eaten soft potato stuff on it as still waiting on my crown but nope, not pain biting down at all. Even had a nibble on my finger to make sure ?. Once again Gordon you have been wonderful in your reply. Thank you ?. Tbh it’s mainly my gum that’s still slightly tender (after having that dental damn and then the metal thingy for the filling I’m not really surprised by that) I know I have slight TMJ when stressed and myofascial face pain again when stressed so tbh I think it was all down to me overthinking and getting myself all anxious unnecessarily! Thank you again, I’m booked in for my crown prep on the 21st so fingers crossed this tooth will be happy for at least 5 years! And to anyone reading this who is scared of having an RCT, please just talk to your specialist! Mine was amazing and whilst it wasn’t my favourite experience it was SO much better than I thought and I would have one again if I needed it with much less anxiety! Take something to watch and work on relaxing beforehand, trust me it’s FAR better than the pain an infected tooth causes!
It should be fine to eat on so long as you don't go crazy on it (cracking walnuts etc seeing it's Christmas!). The hardest thing teeth encounter during chewing is the opposing teeth, so it doesn't really matter what you put in between them when you're eating, if you think about it!
The clamps for dental dam can cause a bit of irritation on the gums afterwards, they are sort of designed to dig in below the gum margin, it's harmless but can be a bit sore.
Thanks @Gordon my gums are still sensitive and the tooth next to it that needs a filling is aching a bit, felt like I had something stuck in between my teeth (I didn’t, I glossed) and I notice a weird feeling of pressure on the gum near the tooth when I moved my mouth in a certain way (like when I go to spit out toothpaste or wrap my lips around my teeth). I’ve had some bad TMJ symptoms for sure so put a lot of it down to that but I have had a random bad taste in my mouth this evening - only on one side of my tongue which is weird. For transparency I’ll openly admit I do get weird mouth symptoms from anxiety including a bad taste. But I’m a bit worried now that the filling is leaking??? I can’t remember if she said the filling was temporary or not but it’s silver so it shouldn’t be leaking should it?? In which case it’d be a failed RCT right? Not sure what to do but gonna call my dentist in the morning. Although I can’t go back in because my husband tested positive for covid on Wednesday so wouldn’t be able to go in until Saturday 11th when my isolation is up! I was originally booked in to have my crown prep on the 21st but don’t want to wait that long and leave it just in case.

Getting concerned now. I ate on that side and felt a twinge when I hadn’t before (particularly in the gum beside the tooth) and now I’m too scared to eat on it and worried the infection in the tooth/gums from before the RCT won’t clear up because of leaky filling and it’ll just get worse again and I can’t get to a dentist for at least 5 days. ??‍♀️ Can it take time for the old infection to clear up? I see people feeling normal within 48 hours so wondering if the fact that both my tooth and gum were infected before the RCT and that the nerve in the tooth wasn’t dead before it was taken out is having an effect of my healing time? I have no doubt the anxiety is making the discomfort worse and I woke up with sore gums this morning so I’m certain I was clenching in my sleep.

Trying not to freak out and failing ??‍♀️.
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