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Why do I have a Gum Pimple?

A gum pimple is often a sign of infection or abscess in either the bone or gum tissue.  Although most gum pimples are not painful they need to be evaluated and the infection treated.  

Ann's Question

Hi, I have what looks like a pimple on my gum.  I noticed it a few days ago behind my front tooth. It swells up and then goes down but never goes away. I'm worried because it doesn't ever heal completely. It doesn't hurt.  Can you tell me what it is?


Baton Rouge, LA

My reply

Sometimes when teeth have an infection in the nerve or surrounding bone or gum tissue, you will see a reaction like what you are describing.

These little "pimples" on your gum that come and go but never go away can indicate a tooth abscess or gum infection. 

Not all teeth that are abscessed or infected get a drainage pimple.  Learn the signs of an abscessed tooth here.

Infection causes swelling that can result in pain because swelling creates pressure on the inside of your upper or lower jaw bone.  When you get a "pimple" also know as a sinus tract drainage or fistula, it allows for drainage of the infected spot and relieves the swelling.

The good news is, because the swelling is relieved through the drainage tract, you have no pain. The bad news...you still have infection somewhere in or near your tooth.

Even though it doesn't hurt, you should see your dentist. The dentist has several ways of evaluating the tooth and identifying the problem.

gum pimple

After an X-Ray is taken it will be easier to see if there is an abscess in or near the nerve of your tooth. Measurements of your gum pockets can be taken to see if a gum infection is occurring.  

Depending on where the infection is, and if the problem is still treatable your dentist will recommend either tooth or gum treatment.  Treatment possibilities are a root canal or a gum procedure.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed.

The pimple is an indication that infection has been there for awhile.  Even though it doesn't hurt, you should get it checked out soon.

It is not healthy for you to have chronic infection anywhere in your body.  It can eventually cause a bad toothache or make you sick.

Learn more about how infections are treated here.

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