How Long Does a Gum Boil Last?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

So a boil appeared on your gums a few days ago but it hasn’t gone away. The pimple on the gum looks painless so it shouldn’t be anything serious, right? You’re probably thinking that it’ll probably go away on its own after you give it enough time.

That is wrong because you’ll be waiting for an eternity if you don’t get proper treatment for it. Want to know why that is the case? Well, let us explain.

When a gum boil goes away

A gum boil will not go away on its own because it will last until it gets proper treatment. Typically within 1-2 weeks after treatment, it will deflate and disappear. That should be the end of it.

Without any treatment you may very well be waiting forever. It will permanently stay in your mouth until you do something about it. If you try home remedies, it may temporarily go away if you pop it but it will shortly reappear a few days later.

Reason it needs proper treatment

Treatment is required to get rid of it and that becomes clear if you understand the nature of the boil and what causes it. A gum boil is actually an extension of a periapical abscess, which means that is a well disguised infection.

They often look like a pimple on the gums and feel painless. However, their true nature is that of a tooth abscess. They most commonly develop as a result of untreated tooth decay.

Gum boil with sinus tract - drawing
gum boil with sinus tract

How it forms:

  1. Untreated tooth decay progresses from enamel to dentin and finally to the pulp.
  2. Infection will travel through the pulp and down to the tip of the tooth root.
  3. The abscess forms around the apex.
  4. The infection starts to eat through the jaw bone until it reaches the gums to form a pimple.
  5. The pimple is called a boil while the path of the abscess is called a sinus tract.

The point we’re trying to make is that it is a legitimate infection which means you need to see a dentist for professional treatment. The consequence of home remedies and other improper treatment is a recurring boil on the gums.

Gum boil keeps coming back

If you resist seeing a dentist and attempt DIY home remedies, what you’ll find is a boil on the gums that keeps coming back. You’ll manage to pop it or deflate it but a few days or weeks later, it will return once again.

Common home remedies:

  • Rinsing with salt water.
  • Gargling with hydrogen peroxide mouthwash.
  • Rinsing the mouth with garlic juice.
  • Applying antibacterial oils, clove oil or tea tree oil to the affected area.
  • Homemade concoction of:
    • 1/2 teaspoon mustard oil
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

You probably already know what we’re going to say but NONE of those DIY remedies will work. The pimple will keep on coming back until you give it the right treatment, which is to see a dentist.

You know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result right? So, schedule your appointment as soon as you can.

Permanent treatment

Home remedies may temporarily deflate the boil but permanent treatment involves either a root canal or an extraction. The reason the home remedies don’t work is because they don’t address the source of the problem. The gum boil is a tooth abscess that stems from an infected nerve.

Therefore the only way to get rid of it is to eliminate the source and that requires getting rid of the unhealthy tooth nerve.

There are two ways to treat an infected nerve:

  • Root canal. This procedure involves extracting the nerve from the tooth. Only the pulp gets removed while the overall tooth gets to remain in the mouth.
  • Tooth extraction. In lieu of taking out just the tooth nerve, the entire tooth along with the pulp gets removed from the mouth. This is more drastic and involved than a root canal.

Since only dental procedures can eliminate the source of the infection, it can only go away by seeing a dentist. You can’t do either of these at home.

Will antibiotics help?

Antibiotics is considered an adjunctive therapy and not the primary treatment for this condition. That means if you’re trying to treat it with pills alone, it will have no effect. It may help keep the inflammation and swelling from spreading but it won’t go away.

You need to give it primary therapy in order to jump start the healing process. Antibiotics may still be given after the treatment if you have diffuse swelling. Otherwise, it isn’t necessary.


Rip Van Winkle
Credit: Kobo / Washington Irving

A gum boil will last forever in your mouth until you give it the treatment it deserves. That pimple is not a coincidence nor is it innocent or harmless. It is a full blown tooth infection.

As we all know problems in life, especially infections do not go away on their own. You will need to be proactive and seek out a dentist to have it properly treated. Otherwise you may end up like Rip Van Winkle and wait for an eternity.


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