You can bring water to a boil. Or make a hardboiled egg. And you can make a low-country boil. All are good boils in their own right. But a gum boil, you'll want to pass on. These bumps that look like pimples can become serious when not treated. Check out the types, causes, and symptoms below — and be sure to check with your dentist if you think you have a boil that needs treatment.
What A Gum Boil Could Mean For Your Dental Health
Types of Gum Boils or Dental Abscesses
An abscess is another term for 'boil.' When these discomforting abscess bumps fill with fluid or pus on your gums, you need to get them treated. There are 3 types of gum abscesses that you could be experiencing:
- Gingival abscesses
- A research study published int the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences explains that gingival abscess is a localised, purulent infection, it involves only the soft gum tissue near the marginal gingiva or the interdental papilla.
- Pericoronal abscesses
- More common, often occurring near the crown of a tooth that hasn't broken through your gums, like an impacted wisdom tooth
- Periodontal abscess
- Health Mouth Healthy Body explains that when bacteria which are present in plaque infect the gums the patient has periodontitis. The gums become inflamed, which can make the periodontal ligament (tissue surrounding the root of the tooth) separate from the base of the tooth. A periodontal pocket, a tiny gap, is formed when the periodontal ligament separates from the root. The pocket gets dirty easily and is very hard to keep clean. As bacteria build up in the periodontal pocket, periodontal abscess is formed. Patients can develop periodontal abscesses as a result of a dental procedure which accidentally resulted in periodontal pockets. Also, the use of antibiotics in untreated periodontitis, which can mask the symptoms of an abscess, can result in a periodontal abscess. Sometimes gum damage can lead to periodontal abscesses, even if no periodontitis is present.
Causes and Symptoms of a Gum Boil or Abscess
All dental abscesses, both tooth, and gum are caused by the same culprit — bacterial infections. The National Health Portal explains that bacterial infection affecting gums and bone supporting the teeth leads to gum disease. It is caused by:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
- Diabetes, pregnancy, genetic predisposition
While abscesses are found within your oral cavity, their infection may spread to other areas of your body. Periodontal abscesses, the most prevalent, often occur due to untreated periodontal disease. A research study published in the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences explains that symptoms of periodontal abscess may vary from slight discomfort to severe pain and swelling.
- Common clinical features of the periodontal abscess are presence of generalised periodontal disease with pocketing and bone loss, usually associated with a vital tooth, overlying gingival erythematous, tender and swollen, pus discharge via periodontal pocket or sinus opening.
- An acute abscess often presents as a sudden onset of pain on biting and a deep throbbing pain in a tooth in which the patient has been tending to clinch.
- The gingiva becomes red, swollen and tender. In the early stages, there is no fluctuation or pus discharge, but as the disease progress, the pus and discharge from the gingival crevice become evident.
Treating a Gum Boil or Abscess
The last thing you want is for the infection to spread to your jawbone or teeth. Thus, quick and effective treatment is crucial to getting rid of a gum boil. The study further describes that in non-life threatening conditions, oral analgesics and antimicrobial chemotherapy may be sufficient.
- Antibiotics can be prescribed. Initial therapy comprises irrigation of abscessed pocket, drainage through pocket with a probe or light scaling of tooth surface, compression and debridement of soft tissue wall and irrigation with saline and oral hygiene instructions.
- Alternative treatments include extraction of teeth in case of inadequate prognosis, basic treatment (incision, drainage and debridement) with systemic antibiotics.
Keeping Your Gums Healthy
Getting your gums as fit as possible will help reduce your chances of gum disease, cavities, bacteria infections, and ultimately prevent gum abscesses from forming. And that all comes down to proper oral hygiene, like:
- Brushing twice a day
- Flossing daily
- Sugar food and drink in moderation
- Avoiding tobacco usage
- Regular dental check-ups
Nobody wants the complications that come with a gum boil. What it boils down to, though, is strong oral health. Master at-home care and check in regularly with your dentist as recommended — and you should be able to keep gum abscesses absent from your mouth.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.