Winning The Battle Against Swollen Gums

The Rock

Scientific study has shown that the average person has as many as 50,000 thoughts on a daily basis. Unfortunately for your gums, thoughts about their health and wellness are outnumbered by an incredibly long list of things which may or may not include a Kardashian couple or two. We don’t judge. The only time we seem to consistently think about our gums is when they are painful, inflamed, sensitive or even bleeding. At that point we really have little choice.


The importance of winning the battle against swollen gums concerns both your mouth and your overall wellness. Inflammation is your body’s natural reaction and defense mechanism to injury or worse – infection. When the bacteria that exists within dental plaque attacks healthy tooth structure underneath the gum line, the infection that results is the gum pain you can’t keep off your mind.


What Else Can Cause Swollen Gums?


There are certain things like reactions to medications, foods, bad fitting dentures or even a lodged popcorn kernel that can cause swelling, pain and discomfort in your gums. These causes are quickly treatable once identified. If the swollen gums are accompanied by other unusual symptoms, it is likely a sign of an allergic reaction. Actual trapped food that is irritating the gums should be flossed out or removed for relief. Dentures that do not fit as needed should be brought to the attention of your dentist and denturist.


Other issues that can irritate the gums and cause them to bleed include Vitamin C deficiency, the first and second trimester of pregnancy, malnutrition, or a viral infection that is impacting your entire immune system. Beyond pregnancy, the others can be more difficult to pinpoint and will likely require medical intervention to aid in the diagnosis. If your gums begin to bleed and are painful when brushing or flossing you should schedule an appointment with your dentist to rule out or treat the most likely cause; plaque build up and gum disease.


Who is at Risk of Gum Disease?


People who are at an increased level of risk for gingivitis includes;


  • Smokers – smoking can not only bring about gum disease, but disrupt treatment as well.

  • Drinkers – alcohol destroys health mouth tissues including the gums, leading to potential infection.

  • Women – hormonal changes that occur at various times in a woman’s life can make gums more sensitive and prone to gum disease.

  • Diabetics – diabetes increases your risk of infection including gum disease.


Beyond red and swollen gums, common signs and symptoms of gum disease are important to know and identify as early as possible. They include;


  • persistent bad breath

  • painful chewing

  • loose and/or sensitive teeth

  • puss or discharge at the gum or near the tooth

  • teeth that appear to be getting visibly longer as the gum line recedes


Swelling of the gums usually begins in a concentrated part of the mouth, usually at the gum line along the tooth. The path to swollen gums in most cases is less than ideal oral health habits including an unhealthy diet along with poor brushing and flossing habits. As with most things health related, winning the battle against swollen gums is a race against time; the earlier you realize the issue and take steps towards treating it, the better. Plaque builds up over time, eventually causing gingivitis; mild gum disease that manifests as red, swollen and bleeding gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis. At this stage the gum begins to pull away from the tooth, causing spaces known as pockets that become infected by plaque bacteria. This infection can move into the connective tissues of the tooth as well as the bone structure below, weakening your tooth and destroying bone structure. Periodontitis can wreak havoc as it spreads throughout your mouth eventually leading to tooth loss if left untreated.


Winning the Battle Round by Round


Defeating gum disease begins with a strong oral health regime as its foundation. Beyond this, the most immediate improvement is brought about by a thorough and deep dental cleaning offered by your dentist’s office. Your dental hygienist will use instruments known as scalers to remove built up plaque and tartar from your above and below the gum line (known as scaling), removing the very cause of the issue. Although this can lead to some bleeding and discomfort, it will lead to massive improvements in the coming days. More frequent appointments may be suggested in order to maintain your tooth and gum health.


A Comparison of Healthy and Unhealthy Gums.

A Comparison of Healthy and Unhealthy Gums.

Your goal should always be to avoid advanced stages of gum disease. At this point, the treatment measures are likely to be extreme and painful. This may include flap surgery, where the gum is cut so that the area can be cleaned and then sutured more snugly on the tooth to reduce pocket size. Bone and/or tissue grafts may also be recommended when loss of both gum and bone is significant enough to warrant surgical additions of either or both. None of these is pleasant or necessary if you do your part to punch gum disease in the face day after day, round after round.


Sources: NIDCR, Worldental

Photos: Winning Like The Rock,

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