Swollen gums can be incredibly painful. Gum swelling and redness usually occur in the papillae—the triangular areas of gum situated between the teeth—because these are the parts that are most exposed to bacteria and other inciting causes of gum disease.
There are many different causes of swollen gums. This condition can arise from simple causes such as vigorous brushing, poorly fitting dentures and sensitivity to toothpaste or mouthwash components; however, inflammation of the gum tissues can also be a result of more serious conditions, such as malnutrition, a viral or fungal infection, scurvy and gingivitis.
Pregnancy can also lead to swelling of gums. Some drugs, such as Dilantin and phenobarbital, are also known to cause irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue when used excessively.
Keeping your gums in good condition is essential because these tissues play an important role in supporting teeth. With severe swelling, the gum tissue can also be removed from the base of the teeth, thus reducing support and increasing the likelihood of tooth loss. In addition, gum detachment will also expose the porous dentin layer of the tooth, making it easier for irritating substances to come into contact with the sensitive structures within the tooth’s pulp chamber.
As such, pain from gum swelling can occur not only on the surface but also within the tooth as well. When left untreated, inflamed gums can lead to more serious conditions, such as periodontitis. This illness has also been associated with life-threatening conditions such as heart disease.
The first step in the treatment of inflamed gums is to consult with a dentist to find the root cause. If the cause can be determined immediately, then the appropriate treatment can be administered as soon as possible. There are several treatment options, but foremost among these is improvement of oral hygiene. This is because, more often than not, gum swelling is caused by gingivitis, which is commonly caused by plaque—biofilms formed by bacteria and the by-products of their metabolism.
In addition to proper oral hygiene, people with inflamed gums should also expend some effort in improving their diet. Recommended servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed and intake of vitamin C and calcium supplements may also be necessary. In some cases, stress reduction may be needed to help control the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which can lead to gum inflammation. To reduce irritation of gums, harsh substances and food (such as extremely hot or cold items, acidic beverages, and crunchy or hard-to-chew food) and tobacco should also be avoided.