Gum Boil: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A boil is a collection of pus that can occur anywhere from your scalp to your feet. Developing a boil in your gum can be painful and uncomfortable.

A gum boil is not normal and is usually the sign of an infection. It is the exit point through which the pus gathered from the underlying infection drains.

Gum Boil Causes

1. Gum Disease

Gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis can cause the gums to become irritated and inflamed. Food and bacteria can then get below the gum line causing a boil.

Gum disease is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking and uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, which can then lead to plaque build-up and eventually, gum disease.

2. Decayed Or Infected Tooth

A severely decayed tooth or a tooth that has become infected due to a fracture, a failed root canal or trauma is another cause of gum boil. The infection in the tooth can spread into the gum and cause pus accumulation.

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3. Foreign Body Or Food Impaction

A foreign body or food being trapped in the gum can cause irritation. This leads to the gums getting inflamed then infected and this shows as a boil.

4. Retained Baby Tooth or Un-erupted Tooth

A baby tooth that has not yet fallen out while the permanent one is growing beneath it can be a source of infection. Also, a tooth that is yet to come out or stuck in the bone, such as the wisdom tooth, can also cause a boil to form on the gum.

5. Reduced Immunity

Medical conditions like Diabetes and HIV reduces the ability of the body to fight bacteria due to the compromised immune state. This makes people with this condition prone to coming down with gum boils.

6. Viral Infections

Viral infections of the mouth such as cold sores and Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease usually present as a bump on the gums. In this case, there is no pus accumulation except if the boil becomes superinfected by bacteria.

There is associated pain which interferes with speech and eating. This condition is also seen if you have reduced immunity.

7. Trauma or Injury to The Gums

Injury or trauma from hot foods, ill-fitting dentures or other appliances can cause a bump to form on the gum. If this bump becomes infected, it can lead to gum boil.

Symptoms

Typically, the first indication that you have a gum boil is pain. 

Other associated symptoms are:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pus discharge
  • Ear pain
  • Gum swelling
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaw or facial swelling in cases of severe infection

Treatment

Antibiotics

An antibiotic prescription is usually part of the treatment for gum boil to kill the bacteria causing it.

Good Oral Hygiene

Gum boil caused by gum disease is treated by proper oral hygiene practices like brushing twice daily, flossing, and rinsing with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Visiting your dentist for professional cleaning to get rid of the bacteria in your gums is also helpful.

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Dental Procedures

If a decayed or infected tooth is the cause of the gum boil, root canal treatment or extraction of the affected tooth will be recommended by your dentist depending on the severity. Once the source of infection (the tooth) is treated, the boil will resolve.

It is also possible to have a gum boil drained under local anesthesia in the dental clinic so as to remove the pus. This can be done in conjunction with the other listed treatment options.

If the gum boil is due to ill-fitting dentures, your denture needs to be adjusted to resolve the swelling.

Treating Underlying Medical Conditions

Associated medical conditions like uncontrolled diabetes need to be reviewed by a physician for proper management. Smoking cessation programs will help to treat gum boil caused by smoking.

Home Remedies For Gum Boils

As pain is usually the first indicator of a gum boil, there are a few at-home remedies that can help you ease the discomfort until you are able to visit your dentist. Remember that these are only temporary and not replacements for professional dental care.

  1. Warm water and salt rinse- This helps to reduce pain and infection.
  2. Analgesics- Over the counter analgesics like paracetamol or diclofenac can be taken to relieve the painful symptoms.
  3. Applying an analgesic gel to the area can also relieve pain.
  4. Applying a warm compress to the affected side of the face is also very helpful.

Summary

Noticing a boil or pimple on your gum is most often a sign that something is wrong and there is an ongoing infection. A trip to your dentist’s office is necessary to find out why exactly you’re having the boil and to prevent it from getting worse.

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