Oral Health Buzz
Three Causes of Inflamed Gums and How to Prevent Them
Margie Monin Dombrowski
When you brush or floss, do you notice any bleeding, tenderness, redness or inflammation in your gums? Inflamed gums could signal an underlying condition that your dentist should check, and the following are just a few possible causes. Paying as much attention to your gums as you do to your teeth is a vital part of maintaining your overall oral health. Be on the lookout for these symptoms.
Cause 1: Gum Disease
Inflamed gums are one of the first signs of gum disease. Other signs and symptoms include teeth that appear longer because the gums have receded, pockets formed between teeth, changes in how the teeth fit together, persistent bad breath and a constant bad taste in the mouth. Do you have any of these symptoms? You may have a form of gum disease, such as gingivitis, periodontitis or advanced periodontitis. Gum disease starts when plaque on the teeth isn't removed by daily brushing and flossing. The plaque infects the gums, teeth and supporting bone tissue. If this condition is left untreated, you could wind up with pocketing around the teeth, teeth may appear to be loose and a gum specialist may need to be seen to examine your condition.
Cause 2: Tooth Abscess
If it's been a while since you've visited the dentist, you may have a cavity or some other dental issue that you don't know about. Sometimes, bacteria from a cavity reaches infects your teeth and can causes an infection and a painful swelling called an abscess. You should see your dentist as soon as you notice swelling around a tooth or signs of an abscess. If it's left untreated, ultimately it may require a root canal to be performed or tooth removal.
Cause 3: Pregnancy
In addition to the usual prenatal care that women receive during the 9 months of pregnancy, staying on top of dental visits is important. As many as 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis, according to WebMD. During pregnancy, you may experience swollen gums and tenderness, which are caused by hormonal changes. One common sign are gums that bleed when you brush or floss. You may even experience a red inflammed raised area on the gum tissue surface — called pregnancy tumors — which typically go away on their own after pregnancy.
Keep the Swelling Down
A combination of at-home care and regular dental checkups is your best bet for fighting cavities, gum disease and swelling of the gum tissue. These are just a few helpful tips to prevent gum inflammation.
- Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, such as Colgate® Slim Soft™.
- Floss daily.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
- Avoid sugary foods.
- Schedule regular dentist visits every 6 months for routine cleanings.
If you have any of these symptoms, be sure to schedule a visit with your dentist to find the true cause. Getting the proper treatment, along with follow-up care in the dentist's office and at home, will prevent further damage. Your teeth and your smile will thank you.
Learn more about gum disease in the Colgate Oral Care resources.