A gum boil can be painless if it has progressed beyond the initial stages of a periapical abscess and has become self-draining but it still needs treatment. There will be dire consequences if this condition is left alone and allowed to progress.
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Can a gum boil be painless?
It's possible to have a gum boil without pain, especially if the condition has advanced beyond the initial stage of a periapical abscess. The reason for it's painlessness is because the boil on the gum often becomes self draining.
Is it really an abscess?
Yes, a gum boil is technically an extension of a periapical abscess stemming from the root tip of an infected tooth.
An apt description for it is that the boil on the gums is actually the orifice opening of a sinus tract which leads directly to a periapical abscess. Therefore this gum lesion is synonymous with an abscess.
How gum boils form:
Tooth gets infected and the nerve dies.
An abscess forms at the tip of the root which is called a periapical abscess.
When left untreated, this abscess will grow in size and start decimating the jaw bone.
Eventually the infection causes enough damage to form a tunnel (sinus tract) all the way to the surface of the gums.
The opening of this sinus tract is a gum boil.
The process above usually takes months before you see clinical signs of it appearing on the gums. However, if you get a dental x-rays during your check up your dentist can often spot it before it happens.
Why it's not painful
Typically if you have a gum boil with no pain, it means that it has become self draining.
Before it is self-draining it can be painful because you feel the pressure of the abscess building up beneath the gums. However, after it starts draining all of that built up pressure can now be released thus relieving you of pain.
How it becomes self-draining:
The boil is a raised gum lesion that sticks out.
Sharp foods or brushing can pop it by accidentally nicking it.
Ultimately you'll often find that it "popped on its own" due to the reasons above. You may notice pus (white fluid) oozing out of the pimple once it does. You'll also have a bad taste in your mouth as well.
Does it require treatment?
A gum boil that is not painful will requirement treatment from a dentist because it is an abscess and infections don't go away on its own. Yes, it may be draining and it may not hurt you at the moment but that can change at a moment's notice.
A self-draining gum boil does not permanently get rid of the source of the infection. The source stems from the abscess at the root tip and the only way to treat that is with a root canal treatment.
How a root canal eliminates the source of infection:
What it does is remove the infected nerve.
Your dentist will also place antibiotics within the tooth.
Once the infection clears, the pimple on the gum will dissipate.
What you should take away from this is to take notice of how your dentist treats this condition. They don't actually do anything to the boil on the gums directly but treat the tooth instead.
Consequences of no treatment
If you leave a gum boil that doesn't hurt untreated, there will be consequences.
Recurring infection. As strange as it may be, sometimes the pimple on the gums can deflate but then it'll come back a few weeks later. It'll keep repeating this cycle until you finally give it the treatment that it deserves.
Can cause facial swelling. There will be instances where the abscess can overwhelm your immune system. If this occurs you will get swelling in the mouth and on the face. If this happens it will become a dental emergency.
In summary, it can go from painless to painful if the infection is allowed to grow.
How to treat it
There are two treatment options for a painless gum boil but they both require seeing a dentist.
Root canal. If the infection is manageable and the restorative prognosis for the tooth is good, you can treat it with a root canal. This procedure will remove the infected nerve but leave the tooth intact. It is the most conservative way to treat it.
Tooth extraction. If the infection is very severe and the tooth is deemed nonrestorable or hopeless, you will need it taken out. Afterwards you'll have a missing tooth with an empty socket.
You won't know which treatment you need until you see your dentist for a consultation. They will perform a thoroughly clinical evaluation and let you know which would be the best treatment option for you.
Do home remedies work?
Unfortunately home remedies do not treat the source of a periapical abscess. What it can do is temporarily alleviate tooth pain stemming from the pimple on the gums.
However, if you have a gum boil that doesn't hurt, there is no point in using home remedies. If there is no pain to relieve why bother using pain relieving home remedies. It would be a completely different story if you had a gum boil that was painful.
The best course of action is to see your dentist.
If you have a gum boil with no pain you should still see a dentist because that pimple on the gums is a tell-tale sign of an infection. You may be fortunate that it isn't hurting you at the moment but it will still need to be treated because it won't go away on its own.
Have you ever heard of a self-resolving abscess? We haven't so what are you waiting for? Give your dentist a call and get that appointment scheduled. If you're near Long Island City, our dentists can steer you in the right direction.