Your gums are essential to your oral health. Your gums are made of firm, pink tissue covering your jawbone like your teeth. These tissues are thick, fibrous, and full of blood vessels. But swollen gums may appear red instead of their standard pink color.
If your gums become swollen or inflamed, they may protrude or bulge out. Swelling in your gums or the tooth root usually begins where the gum meets the tooth. However, your gums might become so swollen that they start to hide some parts of your teeth.
Swollen gums may also be called gingival swelling. They are often irritated, painful, or sensitive. You might also notice that your gums bleed more easily when brushing and flossing your teeth.
What Causes Swollen Gums?
Do you know that gingivitis is the most common cause of swollen gums? It is a gum disease that causes your gums to become swollen and irritated. Many people do not know they have gingivitis, probably because the symptoms can be quite mild.
However, if the condition is left untreated, gingivitis can eventually lead to much more severe disease like periodontitis. Furthermore, in the long run, it can lead to tooth loss.
Gingivitis is often the result of poor oral hygiene, allowing plaque to build upon your gum line and teeth. Plaque is typically a film composed of bacteria and food particles deposited on your teeth’ surface. If plaque remains on your teeth for more than a few days, it might become tartar.
Tartar is a hardened plaque. You usually can not remove it with flossing and brushing alone. This is when you need to visit your dentist. Tartar buildup over an extended period could lead to gingivitis.
It is indeed true that swollen gums can also occur during pregnancy. The rush of hormones your body produces during this period may increase the blood flow in your gums. This increase in blood flow might cause your gums to be more easily irritated, leading to swelling.
During pregnancy, these hormonal changes may hinder your body’s ability to fight off bacteria that typically cause gum infections. It can increase your chance of developing gingivitis.
You may have gum swelling if you are deficient in vitamins, especially vitamins B and C. As you might be aware, vitamin C, for example, plays a vital role in the maintenance and repair of your teeth and gums. If your vitamin C levels drop too low, you might develop scurvy. Scurvy can then cause gum disease and anemia. In developed nations, malnutrition is uncommon. Even if it is present, it is most often seen in older adults.
Infections caused by viruses and fungi can potentially cause swollen gums. If you have herpes, the condition could lead to acute herpetic gingivostomatitis, which causes swollen gums.
Oral thrush, another infection, results from an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast found in your mouth. The condition can cause gum swelling. Untreated dental decay could also lead to a dental abscess and localized gum swelling.
What are the Treatment Options for Swollen Gums?
If your gums stay swollen for more than two-three weeks, you should talk to your dentist. Your dentist will ask questions about your symptoms and how often they occur.
You may need full mouth dental X-rays. They will also want to know if you are pregnant or if you have had any recent changes in your diet. They may also suggest blood tests to check for an infection.
Depending on the primary cause of your swollen gums, your dentist might prescribe oral rinses that help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis. They might also recommend that you use a specific brand of toothpaste as they might be beneficial. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary.
If your dentist notices extreme cases of gingivitis, you might need surgery. One standard treatment option is scaling and root planing. This is a procedure in which your dentist scrapes away diseased gums, dental plaque, calculus, or tartar, found on the roots of the teeth. Then your dentist will allow the remaining gums to heal.
Home treatment – Swollen Gums
Treat swollen gums with care. You can follow some of these tips for at-home care:
- Soothe your gums by brushing and flossing gently to avoid irritating them. Shop for dental floss.
- The next step is to rinse your mouth with a salt water solution to rid your mouth of bacteria.
- Drink lots of water. As you might be aware, water will help stimulate saliva production. As a result, it will weaken disease-causing bacteria in the mouth.
- Avoid irritants, including strong mouthwashes, tobacco, and alcohol.
- Place a warm compress over your face as it may help lessen gum pain. A cold compress can help decrease swelling.
Popular Home Remedies for Swollen Gums
Maintaining good oral hygiene will indeed protect against health problems. In many cases, issues might still occur. If oral symptoms like swelling in the gums arise, some home remedies often show promise. Here are a few of them in detail:
Using a saltwater rinse might promote oral health and soothe inflammation in your gums. One of the studies found that rinsing your gum cells with saltwater in a laboratory can help stimulate wound healing.
Note that a saltwater rinse can do wonders. Using about 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water should be enough for one sitting. Let the salt dissolve, then gently swish the mixture in the mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. Rinsing up to thrice a day may help reduce temporary inflammation.
Some essential oils may also promote general oral health. A review in one of the journals confirms that mouthwashes containing essential oils can reduce plaque and inflammation. Especially in individuals with gingivitis more effectively than even some medicated mouthwashes.
A study in the European Journal of Dentistry notes that in cell cultures, the essential oils of peppermint, thyme, tea tree, and clove are particularly helpful in preventing the growth of germs. They can lead to common oral issues.
Another study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research found that a mouthwash usually contains lemongrass oil that helps reduce plaque.
These oils can also reduce other signs of gingivitis more effectively than the common medicated mouthwashes. However, further studies are required in this area.
Before using any mouthwash containing these essential oils to treat swelling in the gums, you should check to be sure that it does not include other harsh ingredients such as alcohol. It is because these ingredients may irritate your gums further.
Aloe vera is a common plant that may be very helpful for oral inflammation. In one of the studies, aloe vera gel can reduce inflammation in the gums from gingivitis. However, the study also notes aloe vera is not better than a medicated mouthwash.
The research concluded that aloe vera could cure plaque and gingivitis. Moreover, it could also reduce the inflammation associated with it.
Many companies make mouthwash using aloe vera as an active ingredient. Some individuals also directly choose to use the aloe vera plant’s gel. You should swish these products in the mouth for a couple of minutes before spitting them out. It will help reduce swelling in the gums. These days you can also find many aloe vera types of mouthwash in the market.
Turmeric, the commonly available yellow spice present in many Indian dishes, may also help with gum swelling.
A study in the National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery found that a turmeric gel could safely and effectively help control plaque in the mouth and reduce symptoms of gingivitis. The researchers also found that it is only possible due to its anti-inflammatory nature.
Some brands today offer turmeric gel or powder for brushing the teeth. Applying such a product to your teeth after brushing each day might help reduce plaque and swelling in your gums.
How to Prevent Swollen Gums?
There are some preventive measures you can easily take to avoid swollen gums. It might include maintaining proper oral care and eating healthy foods.
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, especially after meals. Do not forget to visit your dentist at least once every six months for a cleaning. Moreover, if you have symptoms of dry mouth, it can increase your risk of plaque and tartar buildup. Therefore, talk to your doctor about mouthwashes and toothpaste that might help with this condition.
When to see a doctor
Although home remedies may temporarily solve irritating swelling in your gums. Note that they are not a substitute for treatment and diagnosis from a dentist.
Underlying conditions might lead to severe complications. Anyone experiencing such a condition should see a dentist for a complete diagnosis and treatment.
Swollen and inflamed gums are a common issue, and in most cases, they are not a cause for concern. However, the condition that lasts for longer than 1-2 days might be a sign of an underlying issue such as periodontitis, gingivitis, or a tooth abscess. If swelling occurs alongside a fever, an individual should contact their dentist immediately.
It is important to note that people should not ignore symptoms such as swollen gums. You should seek help from a dentist if other symptoms appear.