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Swollen Gums: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Swollen gums are also called gingival swelling and are easily identified because they are red instead of the normal pink in color. The swelling usually starts where the gum meets the tooth and can progress to hide part of the tooth. The swelling can be painful and lead to serious results like tooth loss. Let’s take a look at swollen gums: causes, treatment and prevention.

What Causes Swollen Gums?

Swollen gums can stem from many things, but the most common are:

  • Gingivitis – a gum disease that can cause you to lose teeth
  • Pregnancy – the increase in body hormones can cause your gums to swell
  • Malnutrition – a deficiency in vitamins B and C can cause gums to swell.
  • Infection – caused by fungi and viruses can cause swollen gums. Herpes, canker sores and thrush are the most common
  • Chemotherapy – a side effect of the treatment can be swollen gums and sores in the mouth
  • Smoking – delicate gum tissue can be bothered by harsh tobacco leading to symptoms that include sensitive bleeding gums to painful sores

How Do I Treat Swollen Gums?

Swollen gums need to be treated gently. Soothe them by:

  • Being gentle when brushing and flossing
  • Rinsing your mouth with saltwater
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and strong mouthwashes
  • Using a cold compress to reduce swelling
  • Avoiding extreme temperatures in foods – not too hot or cold

How Can I Prevent Swollen Gums?

Obviously, prevention depends on the cause.  Gingivitis is the most common cause and can be treated and healed with proper treatment and oral hygiene.  Left untreated, gingivitis continues to degrade and can lead to tooth loss.

There are some preventative measures that can help you avoid swollen gums.

  • Oral Care – Brush and floss after meals.  See your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.
  • Eat better – watch your nutrition to be sure you are getting enough calcium, vitamin C, and folic acid.
  • Avoid tobacco – tobacco is hard on the soft, delicate tissue of the gums
  • Relax – Stress raises levels of cortisol increasing the likelihood of inflammation in the body, including the gums
  • Drink lots of water – water tends to rinse dangerous bacteria off of the teeth

When Should I See My Dentist?

Swollen gums are a symptom of something wrong in your mouth.  Seek professional advice for these symptoms, even if there is no pain:

  • Changes in your bite
  • Deep pockets between the teeth and gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush
  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums for more than 2 weeks

What Will My Dentist Do?

He or she will want to know if you are pregnant or have had any recent changes in diet.  Your dentist will ask when the symptoms began and how serious they have been.  The treatment he or she will prescribe will depend on the cause of the swollen gums.

A blood test may be ordered if an infection is suspected. Oral rinses may be prescribed to prevent gingivitis and reduce plaque.  A specific brand of toothpaste may be ordered.  Sometimes antibiotics are used. One common treatment option is curettage, the scraping away of the diseased gums to allow the rest to heal.  In extreme cases of gingivitis, surgery may be required.

If you have questions about your gums, contact us at Osborne Family Dental.  We will be glad to answer your questions or schedule an appointment to examine your gums.