This part of the body is composed of a thick, fibrous tissue filled with blood vessels.
Your gums are very important for your oral health. The gums are made of firm, pink tissue that covers your jaw.
If your gums swell, they can stick out. Swelling in the gums usually begins where the gum meets the tooth. However, the gums can swell so much that they begin to hide parts of their teeth. Swollen gums look red instead of their normal pink color.
Inflammation of the gums is a health problem that must be taken seriously. When the condition persists for a prolonged period, it can lead to periodontal disease and potential loss of teeth and can be associated with a possible risk of heart attack or stroke .
What causes inflamed gums?
Gingivitis is the most common cause of inflamed gums. It is a disease of the gums that causes your gums to become irritated and swollen.
Many people do not know they have gingivitis because the symptoms can be quite mild. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a much more serious condition called periodontitis and possible tooth loss.
Gingivitis is often the result of poor oral hygiene, which allows plaque to accumulate in the gum line and teeth. Plaque is a film composed of bacteria and food particles deposited in the teeth over time.
If the plaque remains on the teeth for more than a few days, it becomes tartar.
Tartar is a hardened plate. Usually, you can not eliminate it by flossing and brushing alone. This is when you need to see a dental professional. The accumulation of tartar can cause gingivitis.
Swollen gums can also occur during pregnancy. The avalanche of hormones that your body produces during pregnancy can increase blood flow in the gums. This increase in blood flow can make your gums irritate more easily, which causes swelling.
These hormonal changes can also hinder your body’s ability to fight the bacteria that usually cause gum infections. This can increase your chance of developing gingivitis.
Being deficient in vitamins, especially vitamins B and C, can cause swelling of the gums. Vitamin C, for example, plays an important role in the maintenance and repair of teeth and gums. If your vitamin C levels fall too low, you could develop scurvy.
Scurvy can cause anemia and gum disease.
In developed nations, malnutrition is rare. When present, it is seen more frequently in older adults.
Infections caused by fungi and viruses can cause inflammation of the gums. If you have herpes, it could cause a condition called acute herpetic gingivostomatitis , which causes inflammation of the gums.
The thrush, which is the result of excessive growth of natural yeast in the mouth, can also cause swelling of the gums. Untreated dental caries can lead to a dental abscess, which is localized swelling of the gums.
What are the symptoms of inflamed gums?
- Red, swollen and sensitive gums.
- Gums that bleed when you brush, floss, and eat crunchy or hard foods.
- Sores in the mouth.
- Bad breath.
- Gum tissue that does not adhere to the tooth or that may be cut away from the teeth.
What are the treatment options?
If your gums are swollen for more than two weeks, you should talk to your dentist. Your dentist will ask you questions about when your symptoms started and how often they occur.
Full mouth dental x-rays may be needed. They will also want to know if you are pregnant or if you have had recent changes in your diet. They can order blood tests to detect an infection.
Depending on the cause of your swollen gums, your dentist may prescribe oral rinses that help prevent gingivitis and reduce plaque. They may also recommend that you use a specific brand of toothpaste. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary.
If you have an extreme case of gingivitis, you may need surgery. A common treatment option is scale and root layout. This is a procedure in which the dentist scrapes diseased gums, dental plaque and calculus or tartar, into the roots of the teeth to allow the remaining gums to heal.
Treatment at home
Treat swollen gums with care. Here are some tips for home care:
- Calm your gums by gently brushing and flossing.
- Rinse your mouth with a salt water solution to rid your mouth of bacteria.
- Drink a lot of water. The water will help stimulate the production of saliva, which weakens the bacteria that cause diseases in the mouth.
- Avoid irritants, including strong mouthwashes, alcohol and tobacco.
- Place a warm compress on your face to decrease gum pain. A cold compress can help decrease swelling.
There are some preventive measures you can take to prevent inflammation of the gums, including maintaining proper oral care and eating healthy foods.
Brush and floss regularly, especially after meals. Visit your dentist at least once every six months for a cleaning. If your mouth is dry, you can increase the risk of plaque and tartar buildup.
Talk to your doctor about mouthwashes and toothpastes that can help with this condition.
Getting enough calcium, vitamin C and folic acid can help ensure that you do not develop swollen gums.
People who do not get enough calcium daily are more likely to develop gum disease. Vitamin C and folic acid are important to prevent gingivitis and maintain healthy gums. Try adding these vitamins to foods or talk to your doctor about supplements.