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Why Are My Gums Swollen?

Jul 8, 2024Oral health, Periodontics

Why Are My Gums Swollen?

Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, can be caused by various factors that contribute to the sudden swelling. One potential cause of inflamed gum tissue is the presence of bacterial toxins, often resulting from inadequate removal of dental plaque. It is important to point out that gingivitis can also be caused by exposure to chemical or physical irritants. Chemical irritants include strong acids or medications that were not meant to be applied directly to the gums. Bodily discomfort includes any type of harm or damage done to the body.

Inflammation in the gums can be caused by various factors, such as medical conditions or a lack of essential nutrients. A recent study found a correlation between swollen, inflamed gum tissues and a deficiency in vitamin C. Hormonal gingivitis can occur in women during periods of puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, as increased levels of estrogen and progesterone result in heightened blood flow to the gums.

 

What causes swollen gums?

Gingivitis is a common cause of swollen gums, and other factors like pregnancy, diet, and certain infections can also contribute to the condition.

Gingivitis

Swollen gums frequently occur as a result of the common condition known as gingivitis. Gingivitis, a gum disease, causes inflammation and irritation, which leads to the swelling of gums.

Many individuals may not realize they have gingivitis because of its mild symptoms.

Untreated gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more serious condition that can result in tooth loss.

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, often occurs as a result of insufficient oral hygiene, causing the buildup of plaque on the gums and teeth. Plaque, a combination of bacteria and food particles, gradually forms on the tooth surface. When plaque remains for an extended period of time, it hardens into tartar.

Tartar, also known as hardened plaque, cannot be effectively removed by only practicing flossing and brushing. Consulting a dental specialist is necessary at this point because tartar can potentially lead to gingivitis.

Pregnancy

Swollen gums can occur during pregnancy. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to increased blood circulation in the gums. As a result, the increased blood flow can potentially cause heightened sensitivity in your gums, which may result in inflammation.

Hormonal fluctuations can negatively affect your body’s ability to fight the bacteria that often cause gum infections. A potential consequence of this is an increased likelihood of gingivitis.

Malnutrition

Inadequate consumption of vitamins, particularly vitamins B and C, can lead to gum inflammation.

Inadequate vitamin C intake may result in scurvy, which can have negative effects on oral health including anemia and gum disease. Vitamin C is essential for the maintenance and repair of teeth and gums.

Malnutrition is a rarer occurrence in developed countries, however, when it does happen, it typically impacts the elderly population.

Infection

Swollen gums can be caused by fungal and viral infections. In cases of herpes infection, swollen gums may occur as a result of acute herpetic gingivostomatitis, which is marked by gum inflammation.

Gum swelling can be caused by an excess of yeast growth in the mouth, also known as thrush. Neglecting dental decay can lead to a localized gum swelling known as a dental abscess, which requires professional intervention from a dentist.

 

How can I prevent swollen gums?

One can avoid swollen gums by following certain steps, such as maintaining good oral hygiene practices and eating nutritious foods.

Oral care

It is important to maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing and flossing after meals. It is recommended to schedule dental check-ups twice a year to receive a thorough cleaning. Feel free to communicate any additional symptoms you may be experiencing. Dry mouth, often caused by certain health conditions or medications, increases the risk of plaque and tartar buildup.

Improving gum health can be achieved by discussing mouthwashes and toothpastes specially formulated for oral care with a dentist.

De-stress

There is evidence suggesting a possible link between long-term stress and an increased risk of gum disease.

Additionally, the effects of stress can extend beyond its negative impact on mental and emotional well-being. Studies have shown that stress can worsen gum issues and decrease the effectiveness of treatments.

Maintaining balanced stress levels is important for maintaining healthy gums and improving overall oral well-being. Engaging in activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing techniques is an effective and straightforward way to reduce stress.

Different toothpastes

Certain types of toothpaste contain ingredients that can improve overall oral health. These ingredients work by reducing tooth sensitivity, soothing inflamed gums, reducing tartar build-up, or protecting against enamel erosion.

To maintain good oral health, the American Dental Association recommends using fluoride toothpaste that does not contain sugar or other flavorings that could lead to tooth decay.

To maintain healthy gums, it is recommended to brush your teeth twice daily with toothpaste and regularly floss.

 

Can gum swelling go away?

Yes, proper treatment can effectively eliminate swollen gums, allowing them to heal. In certain cases, the swelling can also go away on its own without any intervention. For example, if swollen gums are caused by food getting stuck, removing the food should help reduce the swelling. If gum disease is causing the swollen gums, it is likely that treatment will be required. Addressing gum disease promptly increases the chances of maintaining good oral health in the long term.

If there are other factors causing your gum swelling, your healthcare provider will recommend an appropriate treatment. However, the specific course of treatment depends on the underlying cause.

 

What treatments are used by healthcare providers for swollen gums?

The treatment for swollen gums is determined by the specific cause. If gum disease is present, it is recommended to seek consultation with a dentist or periodontist for appropriate treatment solutions.

Common dental procedures for inflamed gums include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Improve your dental hygiene by adding extra tooth brushing and flossing to your routine.
  • Tooth scaling and root planing is a dental procedure referred to as deep dental cleaning.
  • Osseous surgery is performed to decrease the pockets around the teeth.
  • LANAP® procedure is referred to as the laser-assisted new attachment procedure.

If inflammation is present around a single tooth, it is likely that a dental abscess has formed. In such a situation, a dentist may suggest considering a root canal procedure or tooth extraction as possible treatment options.

If there is no gum disease despite swollen gums, a healthcare provider will conduct investigations to identify the underlying cause. These investigations may include ordering tests to determine the presence of other health conditions, such as infections, diabetes, or vitamin deficiencies. Once the cause is determined, your healthcare provider will give you the recommended treatment options.

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