Swollen gums are a fairly common occurrence and most often a sign of something that's easily treatable. But what does it mean if your gums are swelling around a single tooth? And what can you do to treat it? Here are some of the most common causes of swelling around a single tooth, along with treatment advice to keep you smiling.
What Causes a Swollen Gum Around One Tooth?
If you have swelling around just one tooth in your mouth, it may be because you didn't get food debris out from under your gums, which can cause decay and inflammation. If you get the debris out early by brushing and flossing, the swelling may go away. If you're unable to resolve the problem on your own within a couple of days, make an appointment to visit your dental professional. Left untreated, trapped debris can cause gum disease, which leads us to cause number 2...
According to the Ontario Dental Hygienists' Association (ODHA), as many as 75% of adults over 30 have some degree of gum disease. This condition is caused by bacteria that has built up around your gum line and turned into plaque (a soft, sticky, colourless film). In the earliest stage of gum disease (referred to as gingivitis), when the gums start to become inflamed, you may experience red, swollen, sore and/or bleeding gums. If your gingivitis goes untreated, it can develop into a more severe, advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause gum recession, loss of bone tissue, and loosening of the teeth. If periodontitis is left untreated, your teeth could even fall out. Luckily, gum disease is preventable with good oral hygiene, and the more severe stages can be treated with deep cleaning (and, in some cases, surgery). Good oral hygiene requires brushing for 2 minutes at least 2 times a day and using floss at once a day.
An abscess is a small sac of pus in your gums caused by a bacterial infection. Most often, bacteria reach the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth's pulp (the innermost part of the tooth) because of tooth decay or a broken or fractured tooth, but tooth abscesses can also be caused by gum disease. Tell-tale signs of an abscess include throbbing pain, red or swollen gums, a swollen jaw or face, a tender or sore tooth, a fever, and a salty taste in your mouth. See your dental professional for treatment right away if you think you have an abscessed tooth. If left untreated, the infection can spread and, in rare cases, may create serious complications.
Most causes of swollen gums are preventable by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day at a 45-degree angle, brushing away from your gums to remove debris at or below your gum line. Clean between your teeth with floss, interdental brushes, or water flossers at least once a day. Consider using other helpful products like antimicrobial mouthrinses and tongue scrapers. And be sure to see your dental professional for regular appointments. If your swollen gums last more than a few days or your condition concerns you, don't wait until your next appointment. Visit your dental professional right away for diagnosis and treatment. They'll be able to help you get your oral health back on track.