Swollen gums – Cause and treatment

Swollen gums – Cause and treatment

Painful gums are not only uncomfortable but can also give you reasons to worry. But, read and tender gums don’t always mean that you’re having dental problems as this is quite common. Gum inflammation can be caused by many things. Sometimes, even switching to a new toothpaste.

We’ll discuss the possible causes of gum inflammation and what remedies you can use to feel better.

What causes swollen gums?

Swollen and painful gums is something everyone will experience in their lifetime. If you experience a combination of redness, swelling, tenderness to the touch know that these can all be signs of swollen gums.

In order to recover from this, we first need to look at what can cause swollen gums. Some of the most common causes of gum pain are:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Change in your dental hygiene products
  • Improper flossing
  • Aggressive brushing
  • Teeth whitening product
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Smoking
  • Medication

In some cases, certain medication or even medical treatment can cause gum swelling, so it’s best to discuss with your doctor to see if this could be the potential cause.

Why should you treat swollen gums?

Even though some gum swelling is nothing to be alarmed about, but leaving it untreated could cause further problems and the condition might turn for the worse. Minor forms of gingivitis can be treated at home, but if left untreated it can quickly turn into gum disease.

Healthy gums are the foundation of a healthy smile and good oral health. Untreated gum disease can lead to problems in your oral health, causing bone loss, tooth loss and in the end you will require extensive and costly treatment.

Bacteria which is usually causing swollen gums, if it gets into your bloodstream it can cause major problems such as stroke, heart attack or even heart disease.

Should you treat swollen gums with a dentist?

Minor gum swelling can be treated at home, with a few simple changes in your daily routine or oral hygiene. However, if your gums are severely swollen, tender and painful, you might need help from a dentist, who will recommend that you:

  • Do periodontal maintenance – a mild form of deep teeth cleaning which can be used if the swelling isn’t too severe. This is something every dentist recommends to be done every few months.
  • Deep clean your teeth – can help restore oral health because plaque and bacteria cleaning is done not only on the teeth but also beneath the gum line.
  • Take certain medication like antibiotics or antimicrobial rinse
  • Have gum surgery – This is only recommended for truly severe gum swelling where there’s more extensive damage.

Treating swollen gums at home

Not every case of swollen gums will require you to take a trip to the dentist. Mild forms of gum swelling and as soon as you notice the symptoms can be treated at home and quite often, this will do the trick. However, in case that things don’t improve, you will need to contact your dentist.

For minor forms of gum swelling and when caught early, we recommend using the following home remedies:

  1. Salt water rinse – Salt water is generally beneficial because it draws out infections. Mix one teaspoon of salt in one glass of warm water. Take a sip and swish it around in your mouth for a couple of seconds and then spit it out. Repeat the process until you use up all the water in the glass.
  2. Compresses – Using compresses is also an effective way of treating swollen gums. Warm compresses cam be used to alleviate pain and cold compresses can be used to minimize the swelling
  3. Medication – There are certain anti-inflammatory medication which could help you reduce the swelling. Usually they have to be combined with other home remedies and they provide excellent results
  4. Toothpaste – Just like with medication, there are special toothpastes that can be used on swollen gums. Daily use of these toothpastes can help with gingivitis or gum irritation.
  5. Brushing and flossing – Brushing and flossing your teeth aggressively can be one of the causes for your swollen gums. Try to apply moderate or mild pressure while brushing and see if that makes a difference.
  6. Rinsing after each meal – We mentioned before that you shouldn’t brush your teeth right after every meal (you should wait at least 30 minutes). But if you’d like, you can rinse your teeth after the meal. This will wash away some of the food bits that got stuck in between your teeth and will also wash away the bacteria that damage your teeth.
  7. Chew an onion – Onions are well-known for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Yes, this might sound gross, but chewing an onion could help you reduce the swelling.

Hopefully these homemade tips will alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by swollen gums. In our next post, we will be focusing on how to avoid this issue. In the meantime, if you’re experiencing swollen gums and the swelling won’t subside with the help of these tips, contact us to schedule an appointment.


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Dr. Nguyen
Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing high-quality dentistry using state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve improved oral health and the beautiful smile you deserve.

Dr. Nguyen has served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry and has many achievements such as: Invisalign Premier and Teen Provider, Pre-Fellow with Academy of General Dentistry, Graduate of Aesthetic Continuum, Engel Institute for Dental Implant Training, WaveOne Endodontic Training, HD President’s Club.

Dr. Nguyen enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, staying active in the gym, and trying out new restaurants.  When he isn’t at work, you can find him playing basketball, tennis, football, or hiking.

“I want to make you feel right at home, exceed your expectations, and provide an amazing experience!”