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5 Causes of Swollen Gums and How to Treat Them

Did you know that about 47.2% of adults have some form of periodontal disease?

While it may be common knowledge to take care of your teeth, some people often forget that gums are also a crucial part of oral care. This is why swollen gums often go unnoticed.

Having swollen gums is a lot more than an uncomfortable annoyance. It may be a red flag to alert you about something more serious like gum disease. Identifying swollen gums early can increase your chances of preventing the advancement of any periodontal disease.

But what really causes swollen gums? Below is a guide that explores the five probable causes of your swollen gums and how to treat them.

1. Poor Oral Hygiene Routine

Failure to brush and floss regularly allows food to lodge in between your tooth and gum. For example, eating popcorn may cause hard pieces of the kernel to lodge into your gums, causing irritation and swelling.

Food stuck in your teeth can also create a home for bacteria to grow and become dental plaque. This buildup of plaque at the gum line can harden into tartar, causing swollen gums.

Improper brushing and flossing techniques can also exacerbate swollen gums. In the quest to clean your teeth, you may be tempted to brush or floss your teeth as vigorously as you can. Since gums are made of delicate tissue, brushing and flossing the wrong way can make them swollen.

2. Hormonal Changes

Women can be more vulnerable to oral health issues due to the unique hormonal changes they experience. As a woman, hormone fluctuation during puberty, your menstrual cycle, or pregnancy can increase the blood supply to your gum tissue. This increase in blood flow can cause your gums to be more easily irritated, leading to swollen gums around your tooth.

3. Periodontal Disease

Healthy gums are pale pink, firm, and fit snugly around your teeth. But having any type of periodontal disease can lead to swollen gums. Here are some periodontal diseases that affect your gums:


Gingivitis is a mild gum disease that causes minor issues like tender gums, which can come and go. When you suffer from gingivitis, your gums can also become red and swollen.


When you fail to treat gingivitis in time, it can progress to periodontitis. It can cause persistent gum swelling due to the damage to the bone that supports the tooth. If left untreated, your teeth may loosen or even fall out.

Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that forms around the root of your infected tooth. It occurs when the pulp made up of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels gets infected. Whether you have periapical abscesses or periodontal abscesses, you’re likely to experience swollen gums.

4. Malnutrition

The foods you eat affect your oral health. When you aren’t getting the right foods in your system, your gums may start to have problems. Having a deficiency in vitamins B and C can cause gum swelling.

For example, Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the maintenance and repair of your gums and teeth. But if you have low vitamin C levels, you may develop scurvy, which causes anemia and gum disease.

5. Infection

Infections caused by viruses and fungi can cause swollen gums. For instance, if you have herpes, it can result in a condition known as acute herpetic gingivostomatitis, and you may end up with swollen gums. When you get thrush as a result of an overgrowth of yeast in your mouth, you can also experience gum swelling.

How to Treat Swollen Gums

Swollen gums can be very uncomfortable and painful. Here are some swollen gums treatment options that can offer you relief.

Medical Treatment

Have your gums been swollen for more than two weeks? You should visit your dentist. Your dentist will ask you questions about your gums, present health condition, and diet.

During your gum treatment, they may also need to conduct full mouth dental X-rays to evaluate if there is any bone loss or infection.

Based on the cause of your swollen gums, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics if necessary. If you have a severe case of periodontitis, you may need surgery.

Salt Water

Using a salt water rinse can soothe inflammation in the gums, reducing swelling. You can add about 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of warm water and let it dissolve. You can then gently swish the mixture in the mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out. Rinsing your mouth with salt water up to three times each day can help reduce temporary swelling.

Get Effective Treatment for Swollen Gums

Got swollen gums? Still asking yourself, “why are my gums swollen?” At our dental office, we can help you find out the causes of your swollen gums and prescribe comprehensive treatments. Contact us to get quality gum disease treatments.

Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued.

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