What's the difference between a tooth abcess and just a cut on the gums?

Dear Leeann:
The main difference is that a cut IS NOT infected and the abscess is the result of an infection.  
A cut is just a traumatic event affecting the tissues.  It is caused by a sharp object lacerating the gums and the body has to mount a simple healing response to the area and the cut will heal in several days.
The abscess, on the other hand, is caused by a bacterial attack on the tissues in the area.  It is caused by the body response to wall off the bacteria and its byproducts (the toxins which the bacteria excrete after feeding on the tissues).  The body will create a thin skin like tissue sac which will be filled with the bacteria and the byproducts.  A simple pimple on the skin IS an abscess.  
While a simple cut will cause a simple healing response, an abscess is by nature infected with toxins and if not drained and removed can cause a larger and larger infection.  
If you have an abscess, the most important thing is to find out WHY it was caused, treat it with antibiotics and physical removal of the cause (infected tooth?).
If you have a cut, all you have to do is keep it clean and let the body do its own to heal it.
Best wishes and a Happy 4th of July,
Dr. Zev Kaufman


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Zev Kaufman, D.D.S.


I can answer any question from simple routine dentistry to very complex dentistry with emphasis on reconstructive, cosmetic, and implant dentistry. My expertise is in co-ordination of very complex treatment plans with other dental specialists or as a one-man-team, since I have extensive training in Prosthodontics, Surgical Implantology, and orthodontics.


Over a decade in private practice of Surgical Implantology and Prosthodontics. Founder and owner of Prosthodontics & Implant Surgery of Manhattan, PC. Clinical Assistant Professor at the Post-Graduate Department of Periodontics & Implant Dentistry at New York University College of Dentistry. Lecture weekly since 1999 on advanced Implant Prosthodontics at New York University College of Dentistry Post-Graduate Program in Periodontics & Implant Dentistry. Former clinical assistant professor of Dental Radiology at the NYU College of Dentistry. Former clinical and lecture faculty at Lincoln Hospital, Dental residency program. Former clinical and lecture faculty at St. Barnabas Hospital (Bronx, NY) dental residency program. Lecture nationally on Prosthodontics and Implant Dentistry.

Memeber of the American College of Prosthodontics. Memeber of the Acacdemy of Osseointegration. Member or the Omikron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) Honors Dental Society. Member of the American Dental Education Association.

Graduated with Honors from New York University College of Dentistry. Post-Graduate training and certificate in the specialty of Prosthodontics. Post-Graduate training and ceritificate in Surgical and Prosthetic Implant Dentistry. Honors-program in Comprehensive and Applied Practice Management. Honors-program in Orthodontics.

Awards and Honors
NYU Cervice award to the community. OKU honor society. National Dean's List. National Who's Who.

©2016 All rights reserved.