Is Bump on Gums a Dental Emergency or Can it Wait For Insurance to Begin?

I’m waiting on my insurance to kick in from my new job. I’m about 30 days into a 90 day wait period and, naturally, I think I have an abscess now. Just above the gumline on my right side about half-way back, I have a small bump. It’s not painful, but it is a bit tender. It doesn’t seem to have changed or grown at all in the past couple days that I’ve been aware of it. If it is an abscess, is it an emergency that I get in to the dentist? What are the odds that it will be ok until I have coverage? Also, someone told me I could get away with taking antibiotics from the pet store if it flares up. Are they really the same, what kind do I get and how much should I take?



Dear Linda,

You probably wouldn’t eat your dog’s food, right? Sure it has “people ingredients,” but it’s not designed for people. The same goes for medications. Those antibiotics are calibrated specifically for pets, which makes administering them to humans in the proper doses a little ruff. It also increases the odds that you won’t totally kill off the infection and you’ll have to switch to stronger antibiotics that have much greater side effects. Taking pet medications is not advisable.

As for the possible abscess, it’s difficult to say what it is, especially without seeing it. It could be the start of an infection, possibly a canker sore, irritation or injury. Because you’re not in pain and aren’t experiencing any serious swelling or symptoms of infection, it’s not an emergency to get to the dentist right now. If it is an abscess, there’s no telling how quickly it will grow. You might wake up tomorrow looking like you’ve shoved several tennis balls in your mouth (Yikes- that IS a dental emergency) or it might grow a little at a time, picking up additional symptoms along the way and you’ll know you should head in to see your dentist soon.

For now, try rinsing several times a day with a warm saltwater mixture. If it’s just an injury, this will speed up healing. Keep a close eye on it and if you have pain or swelling, treat it as a dental emergency-fetch the phone and call your dentist.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Sirin.

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