How Long Do Gum Boils Last?

You probably just noticed that you have a gum boil in your mouth and you're probably wondering how long they last. Will it go away on its own or do you need to go to the dentist and have them treated?


This article will explain how long it takes them to go away with every known treatment that you can use for them. Hopefully that'll give you an idea of what to expect for this precarious tooth condition on your gums.



Table of Contents:



Will gum boils go away without treatment?

Unfortunately gum boils will not go away on their own without any treatment. They are much more complicated than how they appear. They may look like a small little pimple on your gums but it is actually a tooth abscess and that is the reason why it won't cure itself.


gum boil on molar

Tooth abscesses will not go away on their own so gum boils will essentially stay in your mouth for all eternity until you finally decide to give it treatment. It makes a lot more sense if you actually look at an x-ray of a tooth abscess.


x-ray of tooth abscess
x-ray of tooth abscess

What the abscess or gum boil looks like on the x-ray is a big dark circle at the tip of the root. Dark circles or radiolucencies on x-rays signify that the object is becoming less solid.


Essentially what has happened is that the abscess has destroyed the bone around the tooth. After eating through the bone, it will form a pimple on the gums, which is what you see as a gum boil.


What we're trying to say is that the source of the infection is actually not coming from the pimple on the gums. It actually comes from the infected nerve of the tooth, which is creating the abscess that is eating through the bone and through the gums.


Therefore, until you treat the source of the infection by getting rid of the infected nerve, it will continually keep producing the abscess that will keep forming the gum boil. This is the reason why it will last forever in your mouth until you finally give it the treatment that it deserves.




How long does it take to go away with home remedies?

Just so we can put this to rest once and for all, home remedies will not make gum boils go away. You can try as many home remedies as you want and every method under the sun but that pimple will last forever on your gums until you give it real treatment.


Here are some alleged home remedies that people use for this condition but doesn't actually work nor get rid of it:

  • Salt water rinse

  • Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide

  • Garlic paste

  • Clove oil

  • Thyme oil

  • Tea tree oil

  • Cold compress

  • Warm compress

  • Elevating your head

  • Pain killers

  • Baking soda

  • Orajel and Anbesol


Basically there isn't a single DIY home remedy on this planet that will get rid of this infection. The reason is because it is the tooth nerve that is the source for the abscess. The only way to get rid of the infected nerve is by mechanically and physically removing the nerve from the tooth. The only person in this world who can do that for you is your dentist.


Home remedies cannot physically remove the tooth nerve. In fact, they can't even reach the nerve of the tooth at all because you have to drill through the tooth in order to reach it. All remedies will not mechanically drill through the tooth thus rendering them all relatively ineffectively.


However, what the home remedies may do for you is to help alleviate some of the pain. As long as you understand that, you can try using it to make the tooth feel better at least temporarily.




How long after treatment will it go away?

The only treatment that will make a gum boil go away is a root canal, which physically extracts the infected nerve from the tooth. Usually after a root canal, the gum pimple should dissipate within a week or two after the procedure.


What to expect during the root canal procedure:

  1. Administer local anesthesia to numb the infected tooth.

  2. Disinfect the canals with sodium hypochlorite.

  3. Place antibiotic medication inside the canals to kill the infection.

  4. Leave antibacterial medication for 1-2 weeks.

  5. Evaluate whether the pimple on the gums is gone or not.

  6. If it is gone, you can finish the root canal by placing the root filling material.

  7. If it is not gone, you will have to repeat steps #3-6 until it goes away.


Completed root canal with filling in place
Completed root canal with filling in place

We would like to point out that performing a root canal on a tooth with a boil on the gums is NOT a one visit treatment. It actually involves at least three visits because your dentist will most likely place antibacterial medication inside of the tooth in between the visits.


This medication is called calcium hydroxide and what it does is basically sterilizes the inside of the tooth as well as the surrounding bone. It creates a very basic environment that is hostile to bacteria, which thrive in acidic environments.


This study shows that there was much better tissue repair in the teeth that used calcium hydroxide vs those that didn't. This extra bacterialcidal property of the medication is required for an infection as severe as a gum boil.




What if it doesn't go away even with treatment?

Most gum boils should resolve within 1-2 weeks after the root canal treatment. However, there are rare scenarios where taking out the nerve is not sufficient to clear the infection. It may be due to the fact that the infection is either too severe or maybe the tooth is fractured.


premolar cracked in half
premolar cracked in half

Essentially if you have a non-healing gum boil even two weeks after a root canal, it could be an indication of one of the two conditions. If that is the case, the only option that you have left for this tooth would be to have the entire tooth extracted.


By removing the entire tooth, the infected nerve along with the abscess that is attached to it will all come out. After about a week or two after the tooth removal, the gum boil should disappear completely.


What if the gum boil doesn't hurt and I've had a root canal?

There are many situations where the tooth has already had a root canal but there is STILL a gum boil present. That is absolutely not normal at all. Once again the tooth is either still infected or it is fractured.


gum boil on x-ray of molar
Gum boil on x-ray of molar

The reason why it doesn't hurt is because the tooth already had a root canal where the nerve was already removed. Since the tooth has no more sensations, it won't be able to feel any pain. That is the main reason why you may not be feeling any sensitivity from it.


Even though it may not hurt you, you should still have it treated. The only treatment left that can make this go away would be a tooth extraction. If the root canal doesn't work, this is literally the only option left.



Takeaway

To summarize, gum boils will last forever until you get treatment for it. The reason why it won't go away is because they're more than just a gum pimple because they're actually a manifestation of a tooth abscess.


The source of this abscess is actually coming from the nerve of the tooth. Therefore the only way to treat it is to remove the infected nerve, which is a root canal. Only your dentist can perform this procedure for you.


This is also the reason why home remedies will not work because they cannot remove the nerve from the tooth. That process is a physical one and it requires you to physically extract the nerve. Home remedies will only help you alleviate some of the tooth pain but that is about it.


Related content: In case you were curious about what gum boils look like, here are some pictures of them in our other article.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!