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What A Gum Boil Could Mean For Your Dental Health

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

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.

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
    • These painful legions are on the gums near the tooth, and according to the British Medical Journal, are the least common
  • 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

Causes and Symptoms of a Gum Boil or Abscess

All dental abscesses, both tooth, and gum are caused by the same culprit — bacterial infections. According to the National Health Service (NHS), bacterial infections are usually caused by:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Sugary and starchy food and drink
  • Trauma or previous surgery to gums or teeth
  • A weakened immune system

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. According to the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences, symptoms for periodontal abscesses include:

  • Discomfort
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Periodontal pocketing

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. According to the Government of Alberta, typical periodontal abscess treatment includes:

  • Antibiotic prescription
  • Draining the pus to lessen pain and discomfort
  • Tooth removal (only when necessary)
  • Bone damage surgery (only in severe cases)
  • Cleaning between the tooth and the gum if the cause is from gum disease, according to the American Dental Association

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 checkups

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.


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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.

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