The gums are an often-neglected part of oral health. While many people focus on their teeth and the prevention of cavities, it is just as important to think about gum swelling.
The gums are responsible for partly anchoring the teeth to the jaw and provide protection for the roots that secure the teeth in the jaw. If people neglect the health of their gums, this can spread bacteria throughout the rest of the mouth creating serious oral health issues and overall health of the body. There are many reasons a gum can swell, including an abscessed tooth, gum disease, and improper brushing or flossing. It is important not to ignore swelling of the gums. This should be addressed as quickly possible.
WHY ARE MY GUMS SWOLLEN?
One of the most common questions that people have is about gum swelling. Like other parts of the body, the gums will swell in response to some form of mistreatment. For example, if someone bangs or scrapes their knee, it will swell up as a response. The gums are the same way. If the gums are injured or damaged, they will start to swell. This swelling shows up because the immune system starts to mobilize cells to move towards the gums to start the repair process. These cells include white blood cells, platelets, plasma and other cells that play a critical role in the healing process. The first reason gums swell is because bacteria infects the gums like an open sore on your leg. Your cells try to kill the bacteria.
Causes of gum swelling
gingivitis can lead to red, swollen gums. And, with all that bacteria setting up residence in your mouth, it makes sense. What you may not know, though, is that gingivitis isn’t the only cause of swollen, red gum tissue. Malnutrition, dry mouth, pregnancy, and even dental appliances can all manifest as gum tissue that feels less than comfortable. So, let’s take a look at these triggers and understand why the end result is often a smile we’d rather ice down then show to the world.
Our bodies need a slew of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, and when we don’t get enough of one of them, problems begin to crop up. If you’re not eating well, or have an age-related (or prescription medicine induced) absorptive disorder, you’re going to have difficulty getting all of the nutrients your body needs. When it comes to your mouth, you’ll tend to exhibit swollen gum tissue when you’re lacking in Vitamins B, C, A, D, K or Iron.
Because an ongoing case of dry mouth robs gum tissue of the protective benefit of saliva, gingivitis is almost always the result. So, while Xerostomia (the medical name for dry mouth), isn’t in itself a cause of swollen gums, it remains a contributing factor. Recognizing an ongoing case of dry mouth can help you prevent the eventual buildup of tartar below the gumline that will contribute to gingivitis and, potentially, periodontitis.
Hormones play a pivotal role in a woman’s life, and during pregnancy they’re out in full force. During pregnancy, this natural rise in hormones causes an increase in blood flow to gum tissue which can cause some women to experience swelling and tenderness in their gums. This increase in blood flow also tends to cause gum tissue to exaggerate the way it reacts to existing plaque in the mouth, and can trigger what is known as “pregnancy gingivitis.”
If you’re a denture wearer, and your dentures have begun to fit less comfortably than in the past, you might want to consider having them relined. Relining is a simple and affordable procedure that reshapes the underside of a denture to make it more comfortable as it rests against your gums, preventing irritation to your gum tissue.
It’s no surprise that gum tissue is sensitive. Even the gentle poking of the hygienist when diagnosing the depth of perio pockets can be uncomfortable for some patients. That said, gum tissue shouldn’t hurt, it shouldn’t bleed, and it shouldn’t be swollen and inflamed. So, if you find yourself with overly sensitive, red, swollen gums, reach out to your dentist to explore the reasons for this sensitivity.
There are several signs that people may notice that could clue them into a larger problem with their gums. Examples of these include:
- Bleeding of the gums when people brush or floss
- A receding gum line
- Pain in the gums
- Swelling of the gums
- Red or purple color of the gums
It’s important to fix the cause of swelling. Poor mouth health can destroy the tissues in the mouth, leading to long-term problems. It can make it harder for you to chew and swallow and can affect your nutrition and general health. Untreated dental problems can also affect your overall health.
When should I see my doctor?
See your doctor if you have a fever, trouble breathing or swallowing, or you have an infection (your mouth is red, swollen, painful and there’s a bad-tasting discharge).
How is toothache and swelling diagnosed?
Your doctor or dentist will examine your teeth and may take an x-ray. They will ask you about your pain and talk about your dental history.
HOW TO TREAT SWOLLEN GUMS
As well as speaking to your dentist and attending regular check-ups, there are several things you can do to remove plaque bacteria and, in doing so, help treat swollen gums.
- Brush with special Toothpaste, which is 4x more effective than a regular toothpaste at removing the build-up of plaque along the gum line (the area where the gum meets the tooth), helping to keep gums healthy and teeth strong.
- Use an electric or manual toothbrush with soft round bristles and a small head, paying careful attention to the space where the gums and teeth meet.
- Floss or use interdental brushes, which can help remove plaque bacteria from difficult to reach areas, like in between your teeth.
- Use a mouthwash which is designed to provide everyday gum protection.
If you feel pain when you brush your teeth it might be time to change up your current brush and toothpaste. Some brushes are too harsh and can actually damage your delicate gum tissue surrounding your teeth, so be cautious when you choose your toothbrush. Talk to your expert dentist to find the right dental products for you to improve the conditions of your gums, as you need to feel better each time you brush! Yes, the products you use can affect your gum tissue if they include harsh ingredients. There are so many sensitive formulas available on the market to keep you feeling your best after each brush.
Treat Gum Line Problems
Luckily, there are proven techniques your dentist can perform to improve the condition of your gum line. In addition to changing your brushing habits and eliminating tobacco from your current lifestyle, you can talk to a professional about scaling and root planning options. These dental procedures are minor and can affect your chances of developing gingivitis because they avoid further progression. Continuing these dental treatments are also ideal if you suffer from constant bleeding gums and even difficult gum pain.
Treating your gum line problems also starts with what you do at home. Coming in for treatments at the dental office is one solution, but the rest of the work is literally in your hands when you walk out of a visit.
Good news is swollen gums do not warrant going to the doctor and can be easily remedied at home. Here are eight ways how.
Tea tree oil
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties, tea tree oil will give you instant relief from inflamed gums. Simply take some mouthwash, water and a few drops of tea tree oil and mix together. Use this mouthwash three times per day and make sure not to swallow it.
Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory properties and will help heal swollen gums. Just make sure to include foods that are rich in Vitamin D in your diet such as salmon, cod liver oil and eggs. You can also consider adding supplements to your diet.
Oil pulling is an important aspect of oral hygiene. It reduces bacteria in your mouth and also prevents the formation of plaque. Take one tablespoon of sesame oil and put it in your mouth. Swish it around for about 10 minutes before spitting it put and rinsing your mouth with lukewarm water. After that brush your teeth normally and you can do this for as many days as you want. Just make sure not to swallow the oil.
Aloe vera is a great remedy for bleeding gums as well as swollen ones. This is due to its anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties that will soothe your gums. Extract the gel from the aloe vera plant and massage it into your gums for 1-2 minutes. Rinse out with lukewarm water and you can repeat the process few times a day for best results.
Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has a number of healing capabilities such as pain relief, swelling and getting rid of bacteria in your mouth. Take ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and mix with water to form a paste. Rub the paste on your gums, leave it for 10 minutes then massage your gums for a minute. Rinse out with lukewarm water.
Warm or cold compresses
This is one way to get instant relief from swollen gums and help reduce pain. Do not put the compresses in your mouth but hold them up to your face instead. Take a clean cloth and put it in lukewarm water then hold it to your face for 5 minutes. Then put the cloth in cold water and hold it to your face until you feel your gums become numb. Repeat the cycle as many times as required for relief.
Another effective remedy for swollen gums is salt as it prevents the growth of bacteria and protects from potential infections. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean your teeth and then put a pinch of salt on your fingers. Rub it on your gums for a few seconds then rinse it out with warm water. Repeat this thrice a week.
Black tea bags
Black tea bags contain tannins which help bring down inflammation. Boil the black tea bag in water for three minutes before removing it and cooling it. Place it on your face near the affected area for 10 minutes. Rinse your mouth with warm water and make sure to repeat this daily.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO EFFECTIVELY TREAT GUM INFLAMMATION?
When people feel pain in their gums and notice bleeding while brushing and flossing, they are often anxious for it to go away. It is important to note that treating gingivitis will take some time. It took a while for it to appear and it will take some time for it to go away as well. The ultimate treatment time is going to depend on how bad the gum inflammation is. Relatively minor cases are going to dissipate faster than more extensive issues. For those who are eager to treat it as quickly as possible, visiting an oral health professional for additional treatments is the best treatment. Whatever you do, do not stop brushing or flossing. The more you floss the quicker the bleeding will go away.
Ultimately, gum swelling is only one of the many different signs of gum inflammation. Other things to watch for include inflammation of the gums, a receding gum line, the color and bleeding of the gums when people are brushing and flossing.
Preventing Gum Swelling
Stop the bacterial plaque from getting on your teeth in the first place with a proper dental hygiene routine.
- After eating, make a conscious effort to stop in the bathroom to rinse out your mouth and even brush your teeth if you can. Food can become lodged in between the small spaces of your teeth, often leading to more cavities and dental issues down the road if left untreated.
- Invest in your health by buying deep cleaning tubes of toothpaste and an electric toothbrush. If you have a small mouth, you may need to buy an electric toothbrush with a smaller round brush head. Tighten your gum tissue by switching from a standard toothbrush to one with a little more power. You may have to charge it up every night, but that’s just the price you pay for an amazing tool that deep cleans every nook of your mouth! These electric toothbrushes can gently remove a lot of plaque from your teeth that you may not even realise was there! They also keep your teeth white.
- Drinking a lot of water and getting plenty of sleep at night can also affect your oral hygiene. Drinking water helps flush away the remaining residue left from your meals. Help your body combat bacteria with plenty of rest every night during the week and even on the weekends.
- Take action to reduce the swelling you experience. Avoid heavily caffeinated drinks and sugary sodas to improve the conditions of your gums. This may be hard at first, but it’s a better alternative than acquiring gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis.