Oral hygiene is a major concern among the health community since many infections, bacteria, and diseases can attack your mouth and develop into much worse conditions.
According to the World Health Organization, around 3.5 billion people are affected by gum disease. This is due to various factors such as lack of information, expensive oral health treatments, and more. Many things can cause your gums to hurt and get damaged, like consuming too much sugar, alcohol, and tobacco, as well as brushing your teeth hard and not doing it at all.
Most low and middle-income countries don’t have the necessary equipment or professionals to treat basic oral health issues or are too expensive for the population to afford, which makes the situation completely inaccessible to end.
In this article, we share information about common concerns around gums and their solutions, including possible causes, treatments, and more.
Swollen Gums: Cause, Symptoms & Treatment
If you happen to have swollen gums, you might be suffering from gingivitis. It is a common version of gum disease that results in redness, swelling, and irritation of your gingiva, which is the part of your gum found in the base of your teeth (1). This is a serious concern that must be treated properly in order to stop and prevent future consequences that can damage your teeth and gums.
The most common cause of swollen gums is a lack of good oral health. Not brushing your teeth frequently (twice a day, minimum), avoiding dental checkups, and not using floss to get rid of food leftovers, bacteria, and plaque build-up are examples of poor oral hygiene.
Some of the symptoms of swollen gums represent the opposite of how healthy gums appear, which are firm, pale pink and that fit tight around your teeth. Gingivitis’ signs include swollen gums, bad breath, dark red gums, tender gums, receding gums, and gums that easily bleed when you brush or floss.
As for swollen gums treatment, there are a few options your dentist may recommend to you according to your situation. Usually, a professional dental cleaning will be the first step to stop gingivitis from developing into something much more serious; this procedure will remove all plaque build-up, tartar, and bacteria that are causing your gums to swollen and hurt. Other treatments include dental restoration (for advanced gingivitis) and ongoing care to check on your progress.
Gums Receding/Receding Gum Line
If you notice your gums receding, you should know this is a very common dental problem that affects your gum tissue and your teeth.
In essence, it is a process in which the gum tissue around your teeth pulls away, exposing more of the tooth’s root. This creates small gaps between the gum line and the teeth, allowing bacteria to build up and develop the disease. Not treating gums receding can result in irreversible damage to your teeth, which could end up in tooth loss.
The causes for gums receding are diverse, and include:
- Periodontal disease
- Brushing your teeth too hard
- Hormonal changes
- Insufficient dental care.
Let’s break down each possible cause so you can properly understand the underlying factor that might be damaging your teeth. To begin, periodontal disease may be the cause of your gum line receding due to bacterial gum infections destroying your healthy (or debilitated) gum tissue. This results in a compromised gum tissue and supporting bone that holds your teeth in place (2).
Brushing your teeth too hard can also provoke gums receding since it can cause serious damage to the enamel on your teeth, debilitating them and making your gum line recede over time.
Genetics plays a key role in determining your chances of getting infected gums and, consequently, your gums receding. It is similar to other conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, in which if family members have them, you have a chance of developing it too.
As for hormonal changes, there are a few instances in women’s life in which the gums can become more sensitive such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
Finally, insufficient dental care, or poor oral health, can result in debilitated gums, Not brushing your teeth properly, along with not flossing or using an antibacterial mouthwash can result in accumulated plaque build-up in your teeth, more specifically between your gum line and your tooth, prone to infections.
Receding gum line can’t be reversed, but an oral health professional may conduct a deep-cleaning treatment to get rid of any bacteria, plaque build-up, and tartar to prevent them from keeping infecting your gums.
If you feel your gums sore, there may be a few reasons why this is happening. Since your gum tissue is already soft and sensitive, feeling pain between your teeth is relatively normal, but there are some things you need to consider when determining if this will become a more serious issue.
Pain may be worse when you brush or floss your teeth, as well as if you use alcohol-based mouthwash.
The causes of sore gums involve:
- Gingivitis (receding gums)
- Oral thrush (fungal infection in your mouth)
- Periodontitis (worse case of ongoing gum disease; untreated gingivitis that developed into something else)
- Hormonal changes (in women; can cause gum sensitivity)
You should see a dentist to determine the underlying cause of sore gums and receive the indicated course of action to help you ease your pain.
Infected gums are the result, typically, of poor oral hygiene, resulting in damage to the soft tissue around your teeth. Untreated periodontitis can cause tooth loss or teeth loosen, depending on the case.
There are various surgical and non-surgical treatments to get rid of infected gums and their consequences such as a deep-cleaning treatment and antibiotics, as well as tissue grafts to restore the missing gum.
Infected gums can be preventable by establishing good oral health which includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and using a mouthwash. Regular dentist checkups also help in this case since you can have a professional evaluate your situation and indicate to you what to do.
Gums Inflammation Treatment
Your gums may be inflamed due to various reasons just like we explained above, and there are a few treatments you can try depending on your pain level and recommendations from an oral health professional.
If your gums are inflamed for over two weeks it is advisable that you go see a dentist so they can examine your mouth and search for bone loss (usually with an X-ray scan) and sometimes infection (with a blood test). Once that is done, oral rinses may be prescribed to begin to decrease the inflammation.
Surgery is an option for severe cases of gingivitis only, but for those who are not at that stage yet a deep-cleaning treatment (scaling and root planing) can be recommended instead.
On the other hand, there are some home remedies that work wonders in some cases as well. Rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution to kill bacteria, gently brushing your teeth and gums to keep the area clean, drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks, avoiding alcohol or tobacco, and placing a warm compress in your mouth to help with the pain are just a few recommendations from experts.
Concerns Around Gums Wrap Up
In this article, we covered the most common topics among gums including swollen gums, receding gums, sore gums, infected gums, and how to treat inflamed gums. All conditions can be preventable if good oral hygiene is established, such as brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and investing in a good mouthwash.
Regular dental checkups (once a month for those starting to care for their oral hygiene; every 3-6 months for those who have good oral health) are the key to helping you determine the causes of your pain and the best solution for your situation.
Smoking and alcohol can contribute to debilitating your gums and staining your teeth (getting rid of the enamel of your teeth) therefore moderating your consumption of either can also help in decreasing the chances of developing any form of gum disease as well as making it worse, for those who already have it.
It is advisable that you always check with your dentist before deciding to try a DIY remedy or something similar. An underlying issue may be the cause of your gums hurting and a professional can run the necessary tests and come up with a proper diagnosis and course of action.