When there is either trauma or the introduction of plaque and or bacteria into the tissues of the mouth, there is potential for infection. Sometimes you will see a small swollen bump on the gum tissue that is often painful and filled with pus. If there is no tract for the pus to be released, it can continue to increase in size and discomfort level. This is known as an abscess. These abscesses are either related to the gums or the teeth themselves.
A gum abscess, called a periodontal abscess, is rarer and usually caused by food or debris that is trapped in the space between the tooth and the gum tissue.
A tooth-related abscess, called a periapical abscess, occurs as a result of an infection inside the tooth that affects the nerve of the tooth. This type of infection presents itself along the root of the tooth and often spreads to the surrounding gum or bony tissue.
That being said, there are often many other presentations of circular lesions on the gum tissue parents may confuse for an abscess. Canker sores and ulcerations of viral origin (ex: Cocksackie) may look to the eye like an abscess. If you are ever concerned or confused about the origin of a bump on the gums, we are happy to take a peek!