Swollen gums

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Swollen gums also known as gingivitis refers to the inflammation and irritation of the gums surrounding the teeth. It is normal to have bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria present in the mouth convert sugar, starches or carbohydrates into acids which combine with the bacteria, saliva and food debris to form a persistent coating on the enamel of the teeth. This is called plaque which crystallizes to form an even harder coating on the teeth called tartar. The plaque and tartar residing on the teeth begin to inflame and irritate the gums causing gingivitis.

Swollen gums or gingivitis is one of the commonest dental problems faced by majority of the population. Treatment measures for gingivitis may resolve symptoms if accompanied with proper oral care ad hygiene.

You may suspect gingivitis is you notice that your gums are red, swollen and painful. Additional symptoms include bad breath, unpleasant taste in the mouth and dental pain. Symptoms of advanced swollen gums include mouth painfacial pain, facial swelling and fever.

If you see your dentist for treatment of gingivitis, he may prescribe antiseptic mouthwash, oral antibiotics and recommend proper oral hygiene through regular cleaning.

Disclaimer: this post on recognizing and managing swollen gums is for learning purposes only. To learn to prevent, recognize and manage severe medical emergencies including swelling, bleeding and fever’s register for first aid and CPR classes.

Risk factors

Common risk factors associated with swollen gums include:

  • Sugary foods
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Abnormal teeth
  • Having a family history of gum disease and disorders
  • Dental bridges
  • Braces
  • Partial dentures
  • Constant mouth breathing
  • HIV infection
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Redness of the gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Painful gums
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Dental pain
  • Excessive salivation

Symptoms of advanced gingivitis

  • Worsening dental pain
  • Destruction of gums
  • Tooth tenderness
  • Fever
  • Loose teeth
  • Facial swelling
  • Drainage of pus form the gums


Follow these homecare steps to resolve symptoms of gingivitis:

  • Avoid eating foods that may get stuck between the teeth
  • Avoid eating too many sugary foods
  • Maintain a proper oral hygiene – brush your teeth after every meal and before bedtime. Floss your teeth after brushing and after every meal. Gargle with saline solution at least thrice per day
  • Have regular dentist checkups – ideally every 6 months
  • Consider using an electric toothbrush for efficient cleaning
  • Use a tartar control toothpaste
  • For gum pain, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Take medication as prescribed and directed by your health care provider. Avoid skipping doses and familiarize yourself with the common side-effects of each medicine you take

Warning signs

See your dentist immediately if any of the below mentioned signs appear:

  • Broken tooth or filling
  • Worsening gum pain
  • Worsening gum swelling
  • Worsening dental pain
  • Increased sensitivity to cold or hot foods
  • Neck swelling
  • Facial swelling


Following these preventative tips will help reduce the risk of gingivitis:

  • Avoid eating foods that get stuck between the teeth
  • Brush after every meal and before bedtime
  • Floss regularly and gargle with a saline solution
  • Use an electric toothbrush
  • See your dentist for regular check-ups

Learn More

To learn more about severe medical emergencies including diabetes, fever’s, infections and swelling sign up for first aid classes through credible St Mark James training affiliates.

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