What could be the cause of “pimple” on gum?

A little over a month ago my toddler and I were playing with his metal toy airplane set. He launched one right at me and before I could react, it struck me in the mouth. It stung a bit, but I really didn’t notice anything else. The tooth was not broken and the area didn’t look injured, so I didn’t bother to follow up with my dentist. This morning I noticed a little pimple on the gum above the tooth that was hit. Also, I think the tooth looks a little darker, but it still doesn’t hurt. Are the two things related or could it be caused by something else? Do I need to see my dentist?



Dear Jessica,

Your aspiring pilot has just proven one of the oldest rules of flight: “Flying isn’t dangerous. Crashing is what’s dangerous.” Aside from some additional time in flight school (and maybe some softer toys) for your little guy I do think it’s important to see your dentist right way.

Your dentist will need to take x-rays and perform an examination, but what likely happened is that when the plane hit your tooth, it traumatized it, cut off its blood supply and ultimately killed it. Symptoms of the nerve dying can vary greatly. While one person might not feel much discomfort, another person might feel like they’ve just been in a plane crash. A dead tooth creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so if it’s left untreated, an infection and abscess can set in. What you’re describing as a pimple sounds like it’s actually an abscess. This isn’t necessarily a dental emergency, but it shouldn’t be allowed to fester.

Your dentist will probably want to start you on an antibiotic right away to cure the infection. As for the tooth itself, there are only two options. You can have the tooth extracted (though I doubt you’d want to lose a front tooth) or, if the tooth has no other issues, you can have a root canal performed and save it. Given that this is your front tooth, you should do everything you can to save it. In regards to the color of the tooth, you might be a candidate for internal bleaching or a veneer. On a brighter note, as Alan Shepherd once noted, “They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one.”

This blog is sponsored by Elgin Emergency Dentist Dr. Steve Sirin.

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