9 Reasons for a Boil or Bump on Gums

9 Reasons for a Boil or Bump on Gums

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH🔬 Evidence Based
9 Reasons for a Boil or Bump on Gums

Do you have a weird-looking bump on your gums? Is there a blister on your gums? Lumps and bumps on your gum tissue can be a variety of different things. Depending on whether it’s visible on one side of your mouth and not the other, if there’s pain involved, or whether it’s hard or soft can help you self-diagnose what’s going on before you call the dentist. 

Sometimes a bump on your gums is a reason to rush right to the phone and make a dental appointment; other times, it’s not. Some go away on their own or heal with good home care, while others require dental attention before something more serious or life-threatening happens.

Gum bumps vary in severity and cause, from infections to minor injuries. Self-diagnosis based on visibility, pain, and texture is possible. Dentists evaluate for serious conditions like cancer or abscessed teeth.

Causes For Bumps On Your Gums

The reason we get bumps on our gums can range from an infected tooth to poking yourself with a tortilla chip and everything in-between. Some type of bumps or blisters on gums are dangerous if you don’t address them quickly, like cancer or an abscessed tooth. Others are nothing to be worried about and will recover on their own. 

When examining dental patients who complain they have a bump or blister on their gums, dentists will usually want to check for the following different conditions:

1. Dental Abscess  

A dental abscess is a collection of pus that forms around the roots of a tooth or in the gums. There are two main types, periapical abscess, which starts inside the tooth and doesn't come out through the gum, and periodontal abscess, which forms deeper inside the gum tissue. Abscess can look like gum boils. It's usually caused by a bacterial infection, such as advanced tooth decay that have reached the nerve tissue inside of your tooth, and it can cause swelling, tenderness, and intense throbbing pain. Diagnosis requires a periapical X-ray.


Dental abscesses usually involves root canal treatment to clear the infection and sometimes antibiotics if the inflammation is severe. If the tooth is extremely compromised or non-restorable due to advanced structural damage, an extraction may be recommended. But in most cases, your dentist will recommend endodontic treatment.

2. Dental Cysts 

Cysts can be hard or fluid filled. Usually, we spot them on X-rays because they’re encapsulated inside the bone. Most dental cysts form on the gums, they are frequently located near the roots of dead or buried teeth. Sometimes, you’ll see a cyst cause a gum boil, blister or bump on your gums. It may not hurt, but you’ll likely see it get larger and larger as time goes on. 


Your dentist will probably need to order a biopsy of the dental cyst to make sure it isn’t anything malignant. Typically, the cyst is surgically removed anyway, and the biopsy is sent to the lab at the time of the procedure. Depending on what the results are, additional treatment may be needed (if the cyst is something cancerous.)

3. Mandibular Torus

A mandibular tori or “exostoses” is an elevated bony ridge on the side of the lower jaw. They can occur in pairs and vary in size from person to person. They can be present on both sides or just one side of the mandible. They can form on the upper or lower jaw. Some people can even get palatal tori or a torus, which is a bony, bumpy growth in the middle of the roof of your mouth.


Most tori are left alone, as growth tends to be very slow. However, if a torus is causing pain, making it difficult to eat, or interfering with wearing a denture, your dentist may recommend surgical removal. 

4. Oral Cancer

Oral or mouth cancer is a type of cancer that affects any part of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, and throat. It occurs when cells in the oral cavity become abnormal and multiply out of control. Symptoms may include persistent sores, oral pain, lumps, or thick patches in the mouth and pain or difficulty with swallowing. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chance of successful recovery.


Early diagnosis of oral cancers is the first step to effective treatment. See your dentist for an oral cancer screening each year. After a biopsy and diagnosis, an oral surgeon can remove the cancerous growth and provide further instructions on cancer therapy or chemotherapy.

5. Canker Sore

A canker sore is a painful ulcer that usually appears in the mouth and tongue, typically caused by injury, diet, or stress. They tend to be white or yellow with a red border and may be very small or large in size. It can last up to two weeks and can cause discomfort when eating and speaking.


The best treatment for a canker sore is usually rest and a soft, bland diet. Some dentists also offer prescriptions or laser therapy to speed up the healing of aphthous ulcers and canker sores, depending on their cause. 

6. Pyogenic Granuloma

Pyogenic granuloma is a non-cancerous overgrowth of tissue. It usually appears as a small, red lump and can occur anywhere on the skin or mucous membranes. They are usually caused by anything from certain types of blood pressure or heart medications to pregnancy hormones. The good news is they aren’t dangerous, just unsightly. 


Treatment usually involves removing the lesion with minor surgery or a laser. If you have the growth during pregnancy, it may go away on its own after you’ve had your baby. But if you’re taking medication and the granuloma is bothering you, ask your dentist about having it lasered off.

7. Bone Spurs  

A bone spur can be anything from a leftover bone or tooth chip after a surgical extraction to an exostoses growth like a mandibular tori. If it’s sore and localized right after an extraction, it’s probably a piece of bone or tooth trying to work its way out of your gums. 


Most bone or tooth chips will work their way out on their own or you’ll need to have your dentist remove them for you. If the growth is a torus/exostoses, you usually leave it alone unless it’s interfering with eating and dental work.

8. Oral fibroma

A fibroma is a small, benign growth. It is typically flesh-colored or slightly red (they can also be white) and can appear anywhere along the gums or other areas of your mouth. Fibromas are not dangerous and can be easily removed with a simple procedure. In some cases, they may grow larger and require further treatment.


No treatment is needed for fibromas unless they are repeatedly exposed to irritation or trauma (like if you’re biting on them over and over) or causing aesthetic issues. Laser removal is usually best, as it’s fast, minimally invasive, and the recovery time is quick. 

9. Oral Trauma 

Oral trauma typically falls into the “I keep biting my cheek over and over” or “My braces are poking into my cheek” category. Traumatic injuries from overzealous brushing, a hit to the mouth, or similar irritation can cause swelling or bumps on your gums, just like you’d get a bruise or sore elsewhere on your body. 


Rest and give it time. But if the trauma or injured gum tissue is repeated because of an orthodontic appliance, sharp tooth, or some other irritant, ask your dentist to intervene. They can adjust appliances, smooth out teeth, or recommend orthodontic wax in the meantime to reduce recurring irritation (so that the bluster on your gums finally has a chance to heal.)

Talk With Your Dentist

If you have any type of a bump or blister on your gums that doesn’t go away within two weeks, call your dentist to set up an exam. Even if the bump on your gums doesn’t hurt. Even if you feel like you’re over-reacting, it’s best to be proactive. Especially since issues like abscessed teeth or oral cancer require timely, attentive treatment. 

Think of it this way: we all want the best-case scenario. At that, your dentist will check the area, maybe take an X-ray, and hopefully tell you it’s nothing to worry about. But if it is a serious concern and additional biopsies or treatment are needed, you can’t risk it to wait another day. Especially in the rare chance that it’s something life-threatening like oral cancer.

Your dentist is the expert when it comes to assessing sores or bumps in your mouth. Call your dentist for an exam instead of going to your family doctor. 

Prevent Tooth decay & Dental Problems

Maintaining good oral health is crucial in preventing issues such as dental abscesses. With poor oral hygiene, unhealthy gums become susceptible to infection and inflammation, paving the way for gum disease to take hold. Regular visits to a dental hygienist can help in the early detection and treatment of gum problems, ensuring that potential issues are addressed before they escalate into more serious conditions like dental abscesses. By prioritizing proper oral care practices and seeking professional guidance, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of experiencing painful and potentially dangerous dental problems.

If you're interested in preventing serious dental issues, consider following my FREE Oral Care Routine Guide to safeguard your mouth from potential problems.

Bump on Gums Recap

If you have a bump on your gums and it hurts or doesn’t go away within a couple of weeks, you need to see your dentist. Sores or blisters on your gums can be irritating or unsightly, but your dentist will be able to help treat or remove it, depending on the situation. While some of these growths are normal bony anatomy, others can be potentially life threatening. Whether it interferes with wearing your denture or it doesn’t hurt at all, be sure to stay up to date on dental checkups to have a professional assess the situation. 

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Last updated onMarch 5, 2024Here is our process

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