What Is Gum Boil: [Causes, Treatment, and Prevention]

Bumps or sores can be truly uncomfortable, especially when they occur in your mouth. Gum boils, also referred to as a type of dental abscess, commonly affect individuals across the United States. In fact, according to research done in 2005, 1 per every 2600 Americans were admitted to hospitals for dental infection.

What Is Gum Boil

Gum boils are an indication of a bacterial infection. In this article we will discuss all that you need to know about gum boils, including what they are, how to prevent them, and how they are treated.

What Are Gum Boils?

You may be questioning, what is a gum boil? A gum boil is an oral infection comprised of bacterial pus. They have a pimple-like appearance that develops beneath the surface of the gums. Gum boils can cause pain and swelling, and lead to the spread of infection to other areas of the body.

Most Common Types of Gum Boils

There are several different types of gum boils, including periapical, periodontal, and gingival gum boils. They are classified based on their location within the mouth. Periapical gum boils appear near the root of an infected tooth. On the other hand, periodontal gum boils are located around teeth-supporting oral tissues. Lastly, gingival abscesses occur on the gum line.

Gum boil vs Abscess

A gum boil is a type of dental abscess that occurs on the gums. A gum boil is generally a sign of a periapical abscess that has developed near the root of the tooth and spread bacteria to the surface of the gums. Gum boils serve as a drainage point for the abscess. This bacterial infection within the mouth can be life-threatening.

Gum Boil Causes

There are several common gum boil causes. The most common causes of gum boils include poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and excessive consumption of sugary and starchy foods and beverages. An accumulation of bacterial plaque and food particles within the mouth not only destroy teeth, but also destroy the gums, leading to inflammation, pain, swelling, and a whole host of oral issues. More rarely, gum boils are caused by gum boil cancer, trauma or previous dental surgery, or systemic health problems.

Identifying the Key Symptoms of Gum Boils

There are several key gum boil symptoms to look out for. These include:

  • Bacterial pus: Pus is a build-up of bacteria that often creates a sensation of pressure and can cause gum boil pop and drainage.
  • Bad breath: A bad oral odor and taste within the mouth often accompanies gum boils as a result of an accumulation of bacteria.
  • Gum bleeding: Normally, gum bleeding is a sign of dental infection.
  • Gum swelling: Swelling is a sign of inflammation triggered by harmful bacteria.
  • Fever: Infection can cause you to develop a high temperature and feel unwell.
  • Tooth sensitivity: You may develop tooth sensitivity to hot and cold as a result of gum boils.
  • Oral Pain: Pain is one of the most common symptoms of gum boils.

Diagnosis Process

If you notice any symptoms or signs of a gum boil, it is important to seek dental evaluation immediately. Your dental professional will perform a thorough clinical examination to determine the diagnosis, cause, and treatment of the dental issue. They may recommend an X-ray to determine the extent of the infection. Early diagnosis of a dental abscess can save your life and prevent spread of infection throughout your body.

Gum Boil Treatment Options

Professional Treatment Methods

It is important to understand how to treat a gum boil. Gum boil treatment must be performed by a medical or dental professional. Gum boil antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare professional is a common treatment method to get rid of the bacterial infection. In addition, your dentist may drain the pus from the gum boil to alleviate discomfort. Depending on the severity, dental surgical procedures including deep cleaning, root canal treatment, gum surgery, or bone damage surgery may be necessary to remove the bacterial infection.

Home Remedies and Care

As mentioned, seeking immediate care from a medical or dental professional is necessary for adequate treatment and removal of gum boils. However, home remedies may help alleviate discomfort as you await professional care. This includes rinsing your mouth with warm salt water, using a cold compress on the affected area, or taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Also, continue to maintain good oral hygiene, and avoid popping the gum boil on your own at home to prevent spread of infection.

Effective Prevention Tips

Oral Hygiene Practices

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential to preventing oral diseases and problems like gum boils. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two-minutes each time. An electric toothbrush is both efficient and effective at removing bacterial dental plaque from the teeth and gums. Be sure to switch out your toothbrush or electric toothbrush heads approximately every 3 to 6 months. It is also necessary to floss at least once a day to remove bacteria and food debris from in-between the teeth.

Lifestyle and Regular Check-Ups

Lifestyle choices, such as diet and habits like smoking and alcohol consumption can also significantly impact your oral health. Avoid foods and beverages high in sugar, which oral bacteria use to produce harmful acids that destroy your teeth and gums. Smoking and excess alcohol consumption should also be avoided, which increase the risk of many oral diseases and systemic health problems. Be sure to keep up with your regular dental check-ups to maintain a healthy smile and prevent oral issues like gum boils.

Potential Complications: Am I at Risk?

It is important to note that untreated gum boils can lead to significant health problems. Common potential complications of untreated gum boils include damage to your oral tissues, jawbone loss, and tooth loss. In extreme cases, sepsis, pneumonia, brain abscess, heart issues, and even death could occur if the infection spreads to other parts of your body. Quick diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare professional is key to lowering your risk of these potential complications.

Is a Gum Boil an Emergency?

A gum boil or dental abscess is considered a dental emergency and should be addressed by a healthcare professional immediately. The accumulation of bacteria can spread to other areas of the body and cause serious health complications, even death. A gum boil or dental abscess will not go away on its own. If you are experiencing a fever, dizziness, trouble breathing, severe pain, or other severe symptoms, seek timely emergency care.

When to See a Dentist?

Gum boil treatment by your dentist can save your life! Gum boils are considered a dental emergency, and if left untreated can be determinantal to your overall health. At Gentle Dental, we offer accessible, affordable, and exceptional emergency dental care to address any of your dental concerns. Our team of dental professionals will determine the best treatment to address the gum boil and alleviate your pain and any associated symptoms.


It can be easy to put off dental issues for a later date, but life-threatening dental problems like gum boils need to be addressed immediately. Gum boils are filled with an accumulation of bacterial pus, which can spread throughout the body and cause infection. Fortunately, gum boils can be prevented with good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits. Contact your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any signs or symptoms of a gum boil.