You're feeling a weird sensation in your mouth, around your teeth and gums. At first, it felt like a little tickle or tingling, but now it's a bit more uncomfortable. You'd love to be able to put a toothbrush in your mouth and give your teeth and gums a good scratching.
Itchy gums might feel unpleasant, but the cause of them often isn't too much of a mystery. Once you and your dentist know what's behind the urge to scratch, treating the itch and preventing future problems shouldn't be too challenging. Take a look at the causes of itchy gums and what you can do about them.
As the National Library of Medicine notes, your mouth contains a lot of bacteria. Those bacteria combine with sugars and other particles in your mouth to form a sticky film called plaque that rests on top of your teeth and gums. Brushing your teeth regularly helps to remove plaque and keep your mouth healthy.
But if you don't remove the plaque, such as when you skip a day of tooth brushing, the plaque can build up enough for you to feel it. In some cases, it might feel like you have a fuzzy coating on your teeth. In others, you might feel a bit of an itch, because the layer of plaque is irritating your gums.
To keep plaque at bay, it's a good idea to brush your teeth twice daily and to floss at least once a day. Your dentist can give you advice and tips on the best ways to brush and floss.
In some cases, itchiness in the gums is caused by gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. Many people associate gingivitis with swelling and bleeding in the gums, but the problem can also cause itching. The good news about gingivitis is that it's treatable. Your dentist will most likely deep-clean your teeth in the office to reduce the inflammation, then provide tips for caring for your teeth and gums at home.
Not only can allergies cause your nose and eyes to itch, they can also cause itchy gums. If you eat something that you're allergic to or use a product in or near your mouth that causes an allergic reaction, it can cause itching, irritation and inflammation of the gums.
Some people who are allergic to certain types of pollen, such as birch or ragweed, might have a condition called oral allergy syndrome, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). Oral allergy syndrome can cause swelling of the lips, scratchiness in the throat and an itchy mouth, usually after a person eats certain raw fruits, vegetables or seeds, writes the ACAAI. A doctor can diagnose the condition with an allergy test. If you are allergic to any foods, avoiding them is usually your best option.
Occasionally, itching gums occur after oral surgery while incisions are healing. For example, if you have your wisdom teeth removed, itching in the gums might occur as part of the healing process. Rinsing your mouth with salt water might help soothe the itch, or you can talk to your dentist to see if they have any pointers for safe itch relief.
Whatever you do, don't try to scratch your itching gums after surgery. The area is trying to heal, and scratching can get in the way of the healing process.
Often, any itchiness in your mouth can be relieved by brushing your teeth and flossing regularly, which can help keep gum disease away. Your dentist might also recommend swishing with a mouthwash like Colgate Total Mouthwash for Gum Health, which provides 12-hour protection against bacteria that cause gingivitis. If the itchiness persists even after you brush or quickly comes back again, schedule a visit with your dentist so that they can take a look at your teeth and gums and let you know what's going on.