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What Causes Swollen Gums?  

Quite often swollen gums are a symptom of gingivitis.  

Swelling of any type is a sign of inflammation and when swelling occurs in your mouth it can indicate infection of the gum tissue, tooth or bone that surrounds your teeth.


The first signs of swollen gums are most obvious between the teeth.  The gum tissue that fills the space between your teeth is called the papilla. 

When healthy, this part of your gum should be pink and firm against your teeth.

If the papilla is unhealthy it looks red, swollen and loose.  Unhealthy gum tissue may bleed easily when you brush, floss or even touch it.

Gingivitis is usually the cause of inflammed and swollen gums.  This condition can usually be cured after a visit to your hygienist combined with your consistent effort at home.  Here's how.

Besides gingivitis there are other causes of swollen gums.  I have listed a few of them here.


Learn why your gums are swollen and how to soothe sore swollen gums...

1. Gingivitis

If you have gingivitis, your gums will be swollen, red, and bleed when you brush, floss or touch them.

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is usually completely reversible.

If you never floss or brush your gum line properly you could have gingivitis and not even know it.

swollen gums


Learn the right way to brush and floss ... then try out your new improved skills.

If your gums bleed...even if it's just a spot or two that bleeds, you probably have gingivitis. 

2. Flossing for the first time

Crazy but true, flossing will make your gums swell...at first. So many first time flossers give up because floss hurts their gums and their fingers. Flossing is hard at first but worth it. You want nice, pink, firm gums right?  For gums that are too sore and swollen to floss.  Try this step by step method to improve your gum health.

Understanding common flossing misconceptions may help you stay motivated.  This article includes an excellent video flossing demonstration.

3. Dry mouth

If you breathe through your mouth, your gums will be swollen in the front of your mouth. Gums are not meant to be dry. Dry mouth causes gingivitis. When you have a chronic dry mouth at night, your gums are not happy...or healthy.  

The first step to improving dry mouth is to identify the cause.  Once you know what is making your mouth dry, it will be easier to find a remedy that will cure or at least improve the condition. 

There are OTC products made specifically for dry mouth and some home remedies that work quite well.

Many seniors have a dry mouth. This and other factors should be taken into consideration for elderly dental care.

4. Orthodontic brackets

If you have orthodontic brackets aka dental braces, extra care is needed to prevent swollen gums.

Orthodontic brackets are really hard to keep clean. In addition to swollen gums your teeth will decalcify (get white or yellow spots) around your brackets or worse yet cavities, if you don't keep them clean. If they are already swollen, try this home remedy.

5. Hormones

Pregnancy gingivitis and teenage gingivitis are both a result of hormones but can be prevented with really good brushing and flossing.

6. Medications

There are a few medications that cause gum swelling. Many more medications cause dry mouth, with more and more kids and adults taking prescription medications, monitoring for side effects is important.

Dry mouth is included in the list of some anti anxiety medication side effects. Acne medications, heart medications, and allergy medicines can also cause dry mouth.

swollen gums

Why does it matter?

Swollen and red gums are not very pretty and could be painful, but more importantly swollen gums are a sign of inflammation.

Inflammation from gum disease has been linked to many chronic diseases.

...diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and stroke!

Learn more about how gum disease can impact  your health.

Next ~ Gum disease treatment