Three Causes of Inflamed Gums and How to Prevent Them

a pregnant mother is telling her little daughter about swollen gums

When you brush or floss, do you notice any 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 is one of the first signs of gum disease. Other signs and symptoms include teeth that appear longer due to receding gums, 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, which can range from minor gum problems to periodontitis or advanced periodontitis. Gum problems start 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. Your teeth may appear to be loose, and you may need to consult a gum specialist to have your condition examined.

Cause 2: Tooth Abscess

If it's been a while since your last dental appointment, you may have a cavity or some other dental issue that you don't know about. Germs from a cavity sometimes infect your teeth and can cause an infection and 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 left untreated, a tooth abscess may ultimately require a root canal or tooth removal procedure.

Cause 3: Pregnancy

In addition to the usual prenatal care that women receive during the nine months of pregnancy, staying on top of dental visits is important. As many as 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis. During pregnancy, you may experience swollen gums and tenderness, which are caused by hormonal changes. One common sign is gums that bleed when you brush or floss. You may even experience a red, inflamed or raised area (called pregnancy tumours) on the gum tissue surface. These tumours typically go away on their own after pregnancy.

Keep the Swelling Down

A combination of at-home care and regular dental check-ups is your best bet for fighting cavities, gum problems 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.
  • Floss daily.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
  • Avoid sugary foods.
  • Schedule regular dental appointments 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.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During PREGNANCY

To help minimize any risks during pregnancy, here is some general advice and some common conditions to be on the lookout for:

  1. Gum disease – during pregnancy, teeth and gums need special attention. Regular tooth brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting the dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that accompany pregnancy.

  2. Enamel erosion – for some women, morning sickness is a major symptom of pregnancy. Along with the nausea comes additional acid that, if left in your mouth, can erode your teeth. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control.

  3. Dry mouth – pregnancy dry mouth can put women at a greater risk for problems such as tooth decay and infections. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugarless gum to enhance production of saliva.

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