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Swollen Gums: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Oral health is an important aspect of your general health and well-being. Therefore, it is imperative to keep various tooth and gum diseases at bay including swollen gums.

Your gums should be as healthy as your teeth. It should be firm, clean and pink in colour. Swollen gums, also called gingival swelling, is characterized by protruding of the gums which appear to be red and painful.

What Causes Swollen Gums

There are a number of causes behind swollen gums:

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a gum disease that causes the gums to swell and become irritated. It is the most common cause of swollen gums [1] . The symptoms of gingivitis are mild and if left untreated, it can lead to a serious condition called periodontitis and tooth loss.

Gingivitis most often occurs due to a result of poor hygiene, which allows the build-up of plaque on the gum line and teeth. If plaque remains on the teeth, it becomes tartar which further leads to gingivitis.

Malnutrition

The deficiency of vitamin B 12 and vitamin C can cause swollen gums. The reason is that vitamin C plays a major role in the maintenance and repair of the gums and teeth [2] and vitamin B 12 keeps dental caries and gingivitis at bay [3] .

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, swollen gums are pretty common because the hormone levels get elevated in the body which increase the blood flow in your gums. This causes irritation in the gums, leading to swelling. The hormonal changes can also interfere with the body's ability to fight off bacteria that cause gum infections, which increase the chances of developing gingivitis [4] .

Infections

Infections caused by viruses and fungi also cause swelling of the gums. Herpes and thrush are infections that also cause swollen gums.

Symptoms Of Swollen Gums

  • Bleeding of the gums
  • Pain
  • Bad breath
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Increased gaps between the teeth

Treatment For Swollen Gums

Consult a dentist, if your gums are swollen for more than 2 weeks. Depending on the cause of your swollen gums, your dentist may prescribe oral rinses that aid in preventing gingivitis and reduce plaque.

Surgery is recommended in extreme cases of gingivitis. Surgery options include scaling and root planing, a procedure in which the dentist scrapes away diseased gums, tartar, and dental plaque on the roots of the teeth to allow the remaining gums to heal.

Home Remedies For Swollen Gums

Home remedies can ease the symptoms of swollen gums and bring relief. The home remedies include the following:

1. Salt water rinse

According to a study, salt water rinse can help soothe inflammation of the gums and start the healing process [5] . Salt has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth and help decrease the bacteria in the gums, which cause swelling.

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water.
  • Rinse your mouth with this solution for 30 seconds.
  • Spit it out and repeat this process 2 to 3 times a day.

2. Turmeric gel

According to a study published in the National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery, turmeric gel can prevent the development of plaque and gingivitis [6] . Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • After brushing and rinsing your teeth, apply turmeric gel to your gums.
  • Allow the gel to sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Swish fresh water in your mouth to rinse off the gel.
  • Spit out the water.

3. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is another effective home remedy used in the treatment of swollen gums, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry [7] .

  • Swish 2 teaspoons of aloe vera mouthwash.
  • Spit it out and repeat this twice a day for 10 days.

4. Cold and warm water compress

Cold and warm water compress can bring relief from pain and swelling in the gums.

  • Soak a washcloth in warm water, squeeze the excess water and gently press the warm, damp cloth to your face near the swollen gum area.
  • Wrap an ice pack in a washcloth and apply in the same way as explained above.

5. Essential oils

According to a study in the European Journal of Dentistry, peppermint tea oil, thyme oil, tea tree oil are effective in preventing the growth of disease-causing micro-organisms in the mouth [8] .

  • Choose any one of the above essential oils of your choice.
  • Mix 3 drops of essential oil with few drops of warm water.
  • Rinse your mouth by swishing this mixture for 30 seconds.
  • Spit it out and repeat this process twice a day.

6. Herbs and spices

Certain herbs and spices like clove powder and turmeric can treat gum inflammation and pain due to their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties [9] .

  • Mix the powdered spice of your choice with a little warm water to make a paste.
  • Apply the paste directly to your gums and keep it for a few minutes.
  • Rinse your mouth with water.

7. Teabags

Black tea, hibiscus tea and green tea [10] contain astringent tannins. On the other hand, ginger tea and chamomile tea possess anti-inflammatory properties. The tannins present in the tea will reduce the irritation of swollen gums.

  • Dip a tea bag in boiling water. Steep it for 5 minutes.
  • As the tea bag cools down, apply it directly on the swelling for at least 5 minutes.

How To Prevent Swollen Gums

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use a mouthwash to remove the hidden food particles after brushing and flossing.
  • Consume less sugary foods.
  • Visit your dentist frequently for check-ups.
View Article References
  1. [1] Page, R. C. (1986). Gingivitis.Journal of Clinical Periodontology,13(5), 345-355.
  2. [2] Omori, K., Hanayama, Y., Naruishi, K., Akiyama, K., Maeda, H., Otsuka, F., & Takashiba, S. (2014). Gingival overgrowth caused by vitamin C deficiency associated with metabolic syndrome and severe periodontal infection: a case report.Clinical case reports,2(6), 286–295.
  3. [3] M Hugar, S., S Dhariwal, N., Majeed, A., Badakar, C., Gokhale, N., & Mistry, L. (2017). Assessment of Vitamin B12and Its Correlation with Dental Caries and Gingival Diseases in 10- to 14-year-old Children: A Cross-sectional Study.International journal of clinical pediatric dentistry,10(2), 142–146.
  4. [4] Shamsi, M., Hidarnia, A., Niknami, S., Rafiee, M., & Karimi, M. (2013). Oral health during pregnancy: A study from women with pregnancy.Dental research journal,10(3), 409–410.
  5. [5] Huynh, N. C. N., Everts, V., Leethanakul, C., Pavasant, P., & Ampornaramveth, R. S. (2016). Rinsing with saline promotes human gingival fibroblast wound healing in vitro.PloS one,11(7), e0159843.
  6. [6] Singh, V., Pathak, A. K., Pal, M., Sareen, S., & Goel, K. (2015). Comparative evaluation of topical application of turmeric gel and 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate gel in prevention of gingivitis.National journal of maxillofacial surgery,6(1), 67–71.
  7. [7] Vangipuram, S., Jha, A., & Bhashyam, M. (2016). Comparative efficacy of aloe vera mouthwash and chlorhexidine on periodontal health: A randomized controlled trial.Journal of clinical and experimental dentistry,8(4), e442–e447.
  8. [8] Thosar, N., Basak, S., Bahadure, R. N., & Rajurkar, M. (2013). Antimicrobial efficacy of five essential oils against oral pathogens: An in vitro study.European journal of dentistry,7(Suppl 1), S71–S77.
  9. [9] Ramesh, A., Varghese, S. S., Doraiswamy, J. N., & Malaiappan, S. (2016). Herbs as an antioxidant arsenal for periodontal diseases.Journal of intercultural ethnopharmacology,5(1), 92–96.
  10. [10] Chatterjee, A., Saluja, M., Agarwal, G., & Alam, M. (2012). Green tea: A boon for periodontal and general health.Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology,16(2), 161–167.

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