Common Causes of Red, Swollen Gums

Do you always seem to struggle with gums that are swollen? Do your gingival tissues bleed easily or every time you brush and floss?

Here are some of the most common reasons why gum tissues may get swollen:

A “Rough Margin” or “Overhang”

Old amalgam (silver) dental fillings or temporary crowns can sometimes have an area that protrudes from the side of your tooth. Typically, you’ll notice floss-catching or shredding in that area. Because of this overhang, plaque and food debris tend to collect in heavier amounts, triggering gum inflammation. Most overhangs can be identified by taking an X-ray of your tooth. The restoration will need to be modified or replaced to prevent chronic infection and bone loss in that space.

Tartar Buildup

Calcified plaque is what we call “tartar” or “calculus”. It is essentially a cement-like buildup that attaches to your tooth surface that you cannot remove with brushing and flossing. Because of the consistent bacterial exposure, your immune system will rush antibodies to that space which results in inflammation, tenderness, and bleeding. Large areas of tartar can usually be seen on your dental X-rays and look like small spurs coming off the sides of each tooth, down under your gum tissues. Without treatment, gum disease is inevitable.

Gingivitis and Gum Disease

Gum inflammation is a natural immune response to bacteria (plaque). The body fights bacteria in your mouth by expanding tiny capillaries within the gums to allow germ-fighting antibodies to rush into that space. As they expand, these tiny blood vessels cause your gums to become more sensitive. This results in the surrounding tissue becoming swollen and more susceptible to bleeding.
Gingivitis, a condition that causes mild to moderate gum inflammation, can be reversed with frequent brushing and flossing. But untreated gingivitis will eventually progress into periodontitis, which includes gum detachment and bone loss.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Research has shown that people with vitamin C deficiency, especially in the presence of some type of metabolic syndrome, are more likely to have bleeding gums and gum disease. If you combine the appropriate home-care methods with regular vitamin C intake, it can help to manage symptoms of gum disease, such as swelling and bleeding gingival tissues.

Medication

Certain types of prescription medications can cause a response in the body that leads to swollen gum tissues. There may not even be any type of bleeding or redness, only inflammation. Calcium channel blockers like those taken for blood pressure, as well as seizure medications, are the most common.

Hormones/Puberty

Swollen gums are often linked to hormonal changes, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy or menses. As hormone levels adjust, gum tissue may feel puffy, tender, or swollen. Fortunately, these symptoms are only temporary and tend to only impact a very small number of women.

Prevention and Regular Care is Key

Proper oral hygiene and regular dental checkups can and do reduce inflammation-causing bacteria around your teeth. If bleeding or inflammation are occurring even when you brush your teeth, contact our periodontist in The Woodlands to schedule a gum-health evaluation. Dr. Saunders will help you identify the possible causes and make a care plan to correct them.

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