Gum Boil in Children – AKA Dental Abscesses

gum boil, gumboil, gum boils


What is a Gum Boil?

The photo above is a standard presentation of a tooth abscess, also known as a gum boil or gumboil.   It looks like a round, pus-filled pimple on the gums.  In the photo above, the child recently fell and injured her two front teeth, and unfortunately, the teeth did not heal, and became non-vital (the tooth “dies” and no longer receives any blood supply or sensations). Abscesses or gum boils can also occur when a tooth has a large cavity, and the decay is so severe that the pulp (where the nerve and blood vessels are contained in the deepest part of the tooth) is infected.  The pulp material starts to drain out the end of the tooth root, and creates a pus-filled bubble on the surface of the gums. Eventually, the pus will start draining from the bubble.

How to Check For a Gum Boil

During your daily brushing/flossing routine, lift your child’s lip up and away from the gums to look for a gum boil, especially if you know a cavity is present on the teeth, or a tooth has a large filling on it.   If you do notice a pimple-like bubble on the gums, bring your child to see a dentist as soon as possible.  Likely, your child will not complain of pain, as most kids have an amazing threshold for pain or discomfort. The abscess indicates that the tooth is no longer vital.

Gum Boil Treatment

Gum boil treatment includes the use of antibiotics to clear the infection, and removal of the decayed or non-vital tooth.  If this tooth is a molar tooth (larger back tooth), the dentist likely will also recommend placing a space maintainer.

Until you can get to a dentist, ice packs or cold water can be applied to help with the swelling and keep the tooth infection from spreading. A salt water rinse can be helpful to keep the infection under control. Visit your dentist as soon as possible.

Gum Boil Prevention

The best way to avoid developing an abscess / gum boil is to bring your child in for regular dental examinations and cleanings every 6 months, and have all cavities restored promptly.  If your child ever falls and bumps their teeth, see a dentist as soon as possible. At Kits Family Dental, we cater to families with young children, and routinely fill cavities for kids, treat abscesses / gum boils, place space maintainers, and have emergency contacts and hours.  Come visit us in Kitsilano today!

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