Obscure Medical Terms: How Well Do You 'Speak Medicine'?

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


November 09, 2018

Image courtesy of James Cade, MD

A parulis resulting from blunt trauma to the jaw.

A parulis, commonly called a "gum boil," is an area of inflammatory tissue arising in the mouth on the gums. The word derives, as do many of our medical terms, from the combination of two Greek words: para, meaning "near or next to" and oulon, meaning "gum." The term is similar to "epulis," which refers to any growth, not necessarily inflammatory, arising on the gingival or alveolar surface of the mouth.

Gum boils are characteristically found at the opening of a sinus tract that has developed as a result of chronic dental periapical infections or dentoalveolar abscesses. An intraoral sinus tract or parulis may be raised or appear as a red-to-yellow ulcer that bleeds easily and exudes pus.[12] Parulis also may occur as a result of trauma. Gum boils are painful lesions requiring treatment by a dentist.


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