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 a visit to your dental professional. Left untreated, this can cause gum disease, which leads us to number 2.
2. Gum Disease
According to a large scale oral health survey of Singaporean adults conducted by the Health Promotion Board in 2003, 85 per cent of the adults examined had some form of gum disease. This condition is caused by bacteria built up around your gum line that has turned into plaque (a soft, sticky, colourless film). In its earliest stages (gingivitis), you may experience red and swollen gums. If your gingivitis goes untreated, the inflammation can develop into a more severe condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause your tissue to recede, bone to wear away, teeth to loosen, and your teeth could even fall out. Luckily, gum disease is preventable by practicing good oral hygiene, and its more severe stages can be treated with deep cleaning (and, in some cases, surgery).
3. Abscessed Tooth
An abscessed tooth 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 inner chamber) because of tooth decay or a broken or fractured tooth, but tooth abscesses can also be the result of gum disease. Tell-tale signs include throbbing pain, red or swollen gums, a swollen jaw or face, a tender or sore tooth, a fever and even a salty taste in your mouth. See your dental professional for treatment right away if you think you have an abscessed tooth. They usually aren't dangerous, but in rare situations, the infection can spread and create serious complications.
4. Other Potential Causes
Other causes of swollen gums that could potentially occur around a single tooth include:
- Poorly fitting dentures or dental appliances
- Viral infection
- Fungal infection
- Side effects of medication
- Not getting enough nutrients
- Sensitivity to mouthwash or toothpaste
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 mouth rinses 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 to a condition you can smile about.