Why Are My Gums Swollen?
While you may think dental health is focused mainly on your teeth, did you know that your gums play a key role in both your oral health and your overall wellbeing?
If you’re experiencing sore, swollen or bleeding gums, it’s important to establish what could be causing this, as well as what you can do to improve your gum health and avoid the discomfort of swollen gums.
In this article, we’re taking a look at some of the common causes of inflamed gums and the steps you can take to address swollen gums and reduce your risk of gum damage in the future.
Gum disease: The most common cause of swollen gums
One of the primary causes of swollen gums is gum disease, which may be mild (gingivitis) or more serious (periodontitis), depending on the severity of the gum inflammation.
● Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease. One of the most common symptoms of gingivitis is swollen gums that may bleed during or after brushing or flossing. It’s important to treat gingivitis to prevent it from developing into periodontitis.
● Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease that occurs when gingivitis isn’t treated in time, leading to tissue damage around the teeth. Periodontitis can cause more serious inflammation and pain in the gums, as well as loose teeth. It’s very important to treat periodontitis as soon as possible.
If you experience any of the following gum-related symptoms, you should visit your local National Dental Care or DB Dental practitioner so they can assess whether you are suffering from some form of gum disease:
● Red, swollen, or tender gums
● Bleeding gums during or after brushing or flossing
● Receding gums
● Loose or shifting teeth
● Persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
● Formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums
● Changes in the way teeth fit together when you bite down
● Changes in the fit of partial dentures
Other causes of swollen gums
While it may be the most common cause of swollen gums, gum disease isn’t the only factor in gum inflammation or pain. Here are some of the other potential causes of swollen gums:
● Canker sores: Canker sores or mouth ulcers can develop anywhere in the mouth, including on the gums, and can cause gum soreness and inflammation. While these sores will go away on their own, talk to your dentist about solutions for persistent or very painful canker sores, such as specialised mouthwash products.
● Chemotherapy One potential side effect of chemotherapy treatment is painful, swollen and bleeding gums. Chemotherapy can lead to a condition called stomatitis, which causes the development of painful sores on the gums and throughout the mouth.
● Smoking: People who smoke or use tobacco products are at a much higher risk of developing gum disease including periodontitis.
● Hormonal changes: Changes in female hormone levels during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can lead to pain and discomfort in the gums, including redness, bleeding, increased sensitivity, and swelling.
How to prevent swollen gums
There are a number of steps you can take to improve the health of your gums and reduce the risk of developing gum disease.
1. Brush correctly: Aggressive brushing can damage the tissue around your teeth and lead to gum inflammation. Avoid vigorous brushing and use a soft-bristled brush to prevent gum damage.
2. Floss daily: Daily flossing removes food debris that can cause plaque build-up - a primary cause of gum disease and inflamed gums. Talk to your Dentist about the best method of flossing.
3. Rinse regularly: Rinsing your mouth after meals can help to clear food particles that lead to the development of gum disease. You can rinse with plain water or use a suitable mouthwash product.
4. Choose the right toothpaste: Certain toothpastes are formulated to reduce the risk of gingivitis, as well as assisting with conditions such as sensitivity. Talk to your dentist about selecting the best toothpaste for your needs.
5. Eat a healthy diet: A well-balanced diet will support healthy gums, so be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as including foods rich in vitamin C and calcium which are important for good gum health.
6. Reduce your stress: A high level of stress can impact your level of hormones such as cortisol. Known as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol can be a contributing factor in gum inflammation, so it’s important to try and manage your stress in a healthy way.
If you’re concerned about swollen, painful or bleeding gums, talk to your National Dental Care or DB Dental practitioner. You can book an appointment at your local practice now.