Know When Symptoms are Superficial or Serious and What To Do
Everyone knows you’re supposed to take care of your teeth. But your gums, too? Who worries if their gums are swollen or a little red? Turns out you should! Swollen gums are a lot more than an uncomfortable annoyance; they could signal something more serious like gum disease.
Gums are full of blood vessels that carry oxygen and food to the roots of the teeth and other connecting parts of the mouth. Hence, you have to take care of your gums if you want to have good oral health.
Swelling anywhere in the body is not normal, and is actually a red flag to alert you that something is going on and needs to be addressed. Catching swollen gums early on and reversing it as soon as possible is the best way to prevent advancement of other serious diseases like periodontitis (gum disease), a condition that causes tooth loss.
Symptoms of Swollen Gums
What do swollen gums look like, and how do you tell them apart from healthy gingival tissue? The key is to know what healthy gums look like and being able to spot the areas where inflammation first comes into play.
- Light pink, coral, or natural tissue pigmentation throughout mouth
- Smooth and flat along the gum lines
- Pointed papilla (small protrusion) between each tooth
- Don’t bleed when you brush or floss
- No pain
Inflamed (Swollen) Gums
- Typically dark pink, red, blue or purple
- Rolled margin along the teeth
- Blunted papilla between the teeth, or no papilla at all (black triangle)
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Uncomfortable to severe pain
What Causes Swollen Gums?
Most swelling of the gums is due to one cause: bacterial plaque. That white, filmy debris that congregates along the gum lines and on the surface of your teeth causes not only cavities, but gum infections as well. That’s because the plaque builds up along the margin of the gum lines and also begins to creep in underneath the gum pocket, infecting the gums from the inside out.
Swollen gums aren’t just caused by gum disease. Here are 10 0ther culprits that can create swollen sore gums:
Incorrect brushing/flossing techniques. Most of us know poor oral hygiene is a common cause of swollen gums. But incorrect brushing or flossing techniques, like flossing your teeth too roughly, could cause swelling as well.
Oral infections. Both viruses and fungi can affect your oral health and cause irritated gums. The attack of STDs like herpes or oral thrush, may be also reasons for gum swelling if not treated immediately.
Hormonal changes. The change in hormone levels may also cause swollen gums. This is a common sighting during pregnancy, menstruation, puberty, or menopause when your body undergoes several changes. This may also increase blood flow to your gums, making them tender and become irritated easily.
Mouth ulcers. Canker sores and mouth ulcers can cause painful gums. These sores usually have a whitish center with red edges. If you have any pre-existing autoimmune disease, you’re more likely to develop canker sores that cause swollen gums.
Malnutrition/vitamin deficiency. In general, oral health is dependent more on the availability of vitamins and minerals especially that of B vitamins and vitamin C. When there is an acute shortage of Vitamin C, it causes scurvy, which leading to anemia and gum diseases. Thus, malnutrition becomes a cause of swollen gums.
Irritation. Allergic reactions to ingredients in toothpaste, food, medications, or even metal dental restorations can cause irritation, redness, or swelling of the gum tissue.
Food. Food that becomes lodged under the gums or between teeth can be hard to clean out, especially if it happens frequently throughout the day.
Burns. Burning your mouth on foods like pizza, nachos, or coffee can create a temporary area of trauma in the mouth. These usually only last 10-14 days, and are directly related to the heat of the food on your gum tissue.
Braces or Faulty Dental Restorations. When you undergo tooth restorations and rough margins are found along the edges of the restoration materials, these provide enough space for plaque to form and are not able to be cleaned easily. These areas become heavily infected and become chronically inflamed giving place to the swelling of your gums.
Ill-fitting dentures or partials can also rub the tissues and cause sores or swelling.
Tooth misalignment. When a misformed tooth is not treated, this condition becomes very serious and affects your oral health with frequent flares of infection manifested as swollen gums.
How Are Swollen Gums Treated?
The best dental treatment for swollen sore gums is removal of plaque and tartar buildup. Regular dental cleanings and other procedures such as scaling and root planing can stop gingivitis in its tracks and actually reverse the effects of gum disease. If you suffer from a more advanced form of periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend ongoing treatment for swollen and bleeding gums.
How to Prevent Swollen Gums
To avoid dealing with pain associated with swollen gums, you should take the following steps to avoid it from happening in the first place.
Brush and floss teeth twice a day. Brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day will go a long way in maintaining proper oral hygiene and avoiding gum swelling.
Maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet. It’s particularly important to maintain a healthy level of vitamins B and C, folic acid as well as calcium. You can simply include a variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet and take supplemental vitamins to encourage stronger teeth and healthier gums.
Drink a lot of water. Drink plenty of water, especially after you eat something because it will not only help flush the food residue as well as bacteria in your mouth, reducing the risk of developing plaque in mouth.
Reduce stress and sleep well. Stress is associated with your dental health according to the Academy of General Dentistry; it affects your immune system and makes it difficult for your body to combat bacteria.
Have regular dental check-ups. See your dentist regularly to ensure everything is in a perfect condition and doesn’t require any treatment. And make sure to visit your dentist if your gum problems cause too much pain or persist. Your dentist not only can find out what causes your swollen gums, he can also help your gums problems heal faster.
Sources: Med-Health.net, Worldental.org, 1800dentist.com