Do You Have A Gum Boil? This Is What It Means And What to Do About It

Do you have a gum boil? If so, there are probably three things you want to know: What caused it, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent it from making a return.

There is no denying that gum boils are an unpleasant topic to discuss, but they are an even less pleasant experience. Unfortunately, though, they are very common, and according to a report published by the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences, they are the third most common dental emergency you can have. 

This article is all about gum boils; why they happen, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them from reoccurring. Keep on reading to learn more.

What a gum boil is

Medically known as a Parulis, a gum boil is swelling or an overgrowth of tissue that forms on the gums.

A gum boil may be the same colour as the gum, but it can also be red and inflamed-looking.

The two types of gum boils

There are two types of gum boils – periodontal abscess and periapical abscess. 

Basically, a periodontal abscess forms in the gum tissue, while periapical abscess forms within the tooth itself. For this simple reason, a periapical abscess is usually much more serious and will require a more invasive form of treatment, such as draining or a root canal.

Gum boil symptoms

What are the symptoms of gum boils?

Unless you happen to spot a strange boil in your mouth while you are brushing your teeth, these are the less obvious symptoms to look out for.

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Pus discharge
  • Swollen gums
  • Earache
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

While some of these symptoms may indicate a problem other than a gum boil, it never hurts to see your dentist just to be sure.

What causes gum boils and how to prevent them

What causes gum boils? Here is a rundown of the most common reasons.

Poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene truly is to blame for most oral health conditions it is possible to develop. This includes gum boils, which may happen if your gums are irritated due to an excess buildup of plaque.

Gum disease

Gum boils can often be an indication of gum disease – which in itself is often caused by poor oral hygie ne.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is another common cause of gum boils.

Oral cancer

In some cases, gum boils may be a symptom of oral cancer.

Gum boil treatment

How can your dentist treat a gum boil?

If the gum boil is minor and there is no infection, it may be enough to double down on your brushing and flossing routine. The dentist might also prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash to help fight off bacterial infection.

In cases where the gum abscess is somewhat more severe, and particularly if there also is an infection, these are the most likely treatment options:

Deep cleaning of teeth and gum tissue

Gum disease is a serious concern, and it is often the root cause of gum boils. Therefore, if your gum boils are due to gum disease, it is important to treat the disease as well as the symptom.

Professional oral cleaning is also called scaling and root planing, and is performed by the dentist or dental hygienist. The purpose is to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums, including your gum pockets, in order to get rid of any plaque, tartar and bacteria.

Root canal

Gum disease isn’t always the cause of gum boils, or at least, it isn’t always the only cause.

If your gum boil is caused by an infected tooth, a root canal may be the only way to treat the abscess before the infection spreads to the surrounding gums, tissues and facial bones.

Tooth extraction

Gum abscess treatment and gum boil treatment focus on treating the underlying issue – because only when the underlying issue has been addressed will the boils be prevented from reoccurring. 

In some cases, the dentist may not be able to save your tooth and will have to extract it – often replacing it with a dental implant or a bridge.

The underlying infection will also be treated, usually with antibiotics. 

Surgical Removal

If boils persist, despite other treatments, they might have to be surgically removed. 

Frequently asked questions

Is a gum boil painful?

Gum boils are tender and can in some cases result in a throbbing pain that fluctuates in severity from mild to severe.

As a result, you might find it uncomfortable to brush your teeth, chew, or drink hot and cold liquids until your gum boils have been treated.

However, it is still important to keep brushing and flossing every day, as good oral hygiene is one of the most effective ways to get rid of and prevent gum boils.

Can I pop a gum boil?

You should never deliberately pop a gum boil, particularly not with your fingers or an unsterile instrument.

Having said that, you may be able to usher a gum boil to its head and make it pop on its own if you rinse with saltwater or a hydrogen peroxide solution. Some essential oils, including clove oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil, can prove very helpful and effective when it comes to keeping the affected area sterile afterwards.

Interested in more home remedies for toothache relief and infection prevention? Read our article on the topic right here.

Are gum boils serious?

Not necessarily, but they can be.

Sometimes the gums form a boil because they are inflamed and irritated because of a lack of proper oral hygiene. If this is the case for you, you are quite fortunate, as you will often be able to reverse the situation with a deep cleaning and better oral hygiene habits.

In other cases, a gum boil can be a sign of a more serious underlying issue, including severe tooth decay, gum disease or oral cancer.
In other words, if you suspect you might have a gum boil, get it checked out by a dentist sooner rather than later.

What causes a boil in your gum?

There are a number of different potential reasons why boils might be forming on your gum tissue. These reasons can range from poor dental hygiene to gum or tooth infection to oral cancer.

What happens if a gum boil goes untreated?

If a gum boil goes untreated, the most likely outcome is the infection spreading to the rest of your gums, mouth and potentially your blood stream, which could be extremely dangerous to your health.

Can a gum abscess heal on its own?

A gum abscess is highly unlikely to heal on its own – it is important to get the proper treatment. Only your dentist will be able to diagnose and suggest the best treatment for your gum abscess.

Which treatment you will need is going to depend on what the underlying cause for your gum boil is. You may need one or a combination of these treatments: Deep cleaning of teeth and gums, antibiotics, a root canal, tooth extraction or surgical removal.

Final thought on gum boils

Gum boils are no picnic. Not only are they unsightly and painful, they can also be the physical signs of a much more serious issue, such as progressed tooth decay or even oral cancer.

If you suspect that you might have a gum boil, visit your nearest dentist right away. A potential gum boil should never be left untreated. Your dentist can diagnose the issue with your gums and check if the gum boil is due to oral cancer or a more benign cause. They will also provide treatment for infections before they escalate.

Surgical removal, an extraction, a root canal, scaling and root planing, or other treatments may be carried out alone or in conjunction with each other for the best results. Once the underlying cause is treated, the gum boil will not re-occur.

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