Swollen Gums: Possible Causes and Treatments
Inflammation and redness along the edges of your gums near your teeth are called Gingivitis. We use the word “Itis” to describe the inflammation of something. in this case inflammation of your Gingiva, which is your gum tissue.
Swollen gums are technically called gingivitis and gingivitis is technically a form of gum disease, but it may not be the only cause of swollen gums. Sometimes, swelling gums may feel tender, you may notice bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth, they may be puffy looking and possibly even smooth or shiny on the surface, or maybe you notice nothing. They feel fine, they look fine, and they don’t bleed.
Unfortunately, gum disease can be like that. It can trick us and hide its symptoms, mostly with smokers, but regardless our best advice is to always make sure you are frequently visiting your dental office for routine cleanings and gum exams to confirm that your gums are in good shape.
Until then let’s talk about what are swollen gums trying to tell you. What should you do about it? And the common causes and treatments for swollen gums.
1. Gingivitis Or periodontitis
The number one cause of gum swelling is as we mentioned earlier: gingivitis or periodontitis. Gingivitis is reversible and it is curable and it is cured by doing basic things.
Re-vamping your home hygiene routine: flossing each day is a must, cleaning along, and under the gum lines daily to remove all plaque, and when brushing angle your toothbrush to clean the gum lines.
Most people assume that flossing is what’s making their gums bleed! But in reality, it’s the opposite, It’s the lack of flossing that’s causing it. All of that plaque accumulation along the edges of your gums is what’s triggering an immune response, giving you swelling, bleeding, and gingivitis.
A good analogy is working out at the gym. When you first start your muscles are fragile but the more you work out the less sore your muscles become. Same thing with flossing the more you do it the firmer, tighter, and healthier your gums will become.
And in addition to proper home care of brushing and flossing, you need to keep up with preventative dental cleanings and see your dental hygienist regularly. If there is any tartar below the gum line you can brush and brush until you’re blue in the face and that stuff won’t come off at home.
You need a dental professional to safely remove the tartar from under your gums and give you a fresh clean surface free of any hard and mineralized bacteria, then you could properly clean your teeth at home.
It’s like having a clean canvas to paint on, you don’t want to try and paint over a painting. Clean it up first and then start fresh because if you don’t gingivitis will gradually progress into a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis.
At this point, the swelling isn’t something you can simply reverse with good oral hygiene anymore. Rather, you’ll need to seek out the care of your dentist to avoid tooth loss. It sounds super dramatic, it’s the worst-case scenario of tooth loss but we have to mention it because it’s true.
Gum disease can be awful but it is preventable. So please try your best to prevent it by getting regular cleanings at your dental office and committing to your daily home care of brushing and flossing. After about two to three weeks of proper daily home care, all signs of gingivitis will go away.
Two quick tips about proper home care for swollen gums. Number one, a water flosser may be your new best friend, it doesn’t replace traditional string flossing but when you are trying to get rid of swollen gums the stimulation from a water flosser can be life-changing.
Number two, warm salt water rinses. If you’re pushing yourself through all that brushing and flossing you might be noticing lots of bleeding. It’s not causing it, it’s because your gums are unhealthy that it’s happening. Rinsing with a warm saltwater rinse can help you soothe your gum tissue and make them feel better. So after visiting a dentist, if your gums are a little tender go ahead warm up some water, put in some salt, and swish it around. It is super soothing for sore gums.
Something else that can cause gum swelling is ‘pregnancy’. Pregnancy hormones can sometimes lead to pseudo-gingivitis and swelling along the gums that can develop into pregnancy tumors which aren’t tumors at all, that’s just the name of the swelling.
The good thing is that they go away right after the pregnant person gives birth, so you might have some puffy gums during pregnancy but right after you deliver the gums will start shrinking down again.
3. Tobacco Products Or Vaping
Another cause of gum swelling can be from using any kind of tobacco product or vaping. Anytime you’re using tobacco products e-cigs or other types of vaping agents you put yourself at risk for tissue burns which can cause swelling.
Usually, you’ll see red patches on the roof of your mouth or areas of the gums that have been burned or quite the opposite of redness, people who smoke sometimes tend to see less redness and swelling along their gums because tobacco products inhibit healing and restrict blood flow making gum tissues paler and giving a false sense of health to their appearance.
Unless the gum disease has already reached an aggressive state, redness and swelling might not be noticeable. So always tell your dental provider if you smoke, they can thoroughly examine and assess the health of your gum tissue.
Your mouth is a reflection of your overall health if there is redness or swelling and your dentist has already ruled out any gingivitis, gum disease, pregnancy, …etc. The swelling could be linked to an underlying medical condition that’s yet to be diagnosed.
The best treatment will depend on what it is that’s causing the infection, if it’s due to a systemic condition you may need a referral to your primary care physician to have blood work done. And please know this is the last thing to assume. Swollen gums are much more likely to be due to gingivitis or gum disease, so always see your dentist first, and then if you still don’t have answers either your dentist will refer you to your doctor or you can schedule an appointment with your doctor’s office. Don’t assume the worst it’s probably just gingivitis
To find out what is causing your swelling gums you’ll need an exam from a dental professional. The number one cause of swollen gums is gingivitis and gum disease. And to prevent that be sure to brush and floss daily at home also rinsing with warm salt water helps to naturally draw out inflammation and water flossers tend to give you more gum stimulation.