You're feeling a strange sensation in your mouth, around your teeth and gums. At first, it felt like a tickle or tingling, but now it's a bit more uncomfortable. You'd love to put a toothbrush in your mouth and give your teeth and gums a good scratch.
Itchy gums may feel unpleasant, but the underlying cause is often quite clear. 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 following causes of itchy gums and how you can treat them:
Your mouth contains a lot of germs. Those germs combine with sugars and other particles in your mouth to form a sticky film called plaque that coats your teeth and gums. Brushing your teeth regularly helps remove plaque and keep your mouth healthy.
But if you don't remove the plaque, for example when you skip a day of tooth brushing, it can build up enough for you to feel it. In some cases, it may feel like you have a fuzzy coating on your teeth. In others, you may feel a slight itch, as the layer of plaque is irritating your gums.
To help keep plaque at bay, brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once a day. Your dentist can provide advice and tips on the best ways to brush and floss.
In some cases, itching gums are caused by gum problems. Many people associate gum problems with swollen and irritated gums, but the problem can also cause itching. The good news is that gum problems can be treated. Your dentist will most likely deep-clean your teeth to reduce the inflammation, then provide tips on proper tooth and gum care 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, this can result in itching, irritation and inflammation of the gums.
Some people who are allergic to certain types of pollen, such as birch or ragweed, may 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, a scratchy throat and an itchy mouth, usually after a person eats certain raw fruits, vegetables or seeds, notes the ACAAI. A doctor can diagnose the condition with an allergy test. If you are allergic to any foods, it's best to avoid them.
Occasionally, itchy gums occur after oral surgery, while the incisions are healing. For example, if you have your wisdom teeth removed, itching in the gums may occur as part of the healing process. Rinsing your mouth with salt water may help soothe the itch, or you can talk to your dentist for pointers on safe itch relief.
Whatever you do, don't scratch your itching gums after surgery. The area is trying to heal, and scratching can obstruct the healing process.
Itchiness in the mouth can often be relieved by brushing your teeth and flossing regularly, which can help prevent gum problems. Your dentist may also recommend swishing with a mouthwash. If the itching persists even after you brush or quickly flares up again, schedule a visit with your dentist so that they can inspect your teeth and gums.