Swollen Gums – Causes & Treatment Options

swollen gums treatment

Swollen gums can be a lot more than just an uncomfortable annoyance, and they can be signal for something more serious like gum disease. Gingivitis is the first problem that comes to mind in case of swollen gums, but there can be plenty of other reasons that can cause your gums to swell.

Swollen gums may or may not also be associated with bad breath or bleeding. But the swollen gums alone are often enough to make you feel uncomfortable especially when you are trying to enjoy your meal.

Some cases are related to sensitivities that give way to painful gums without any bleeding. Diagnosing swollen gums early on and reversing it quickly is the best method to prevent it from progressing into other serious diseases like periodontitis, a condition that may cause tooth loss.

Signs that you have inflamed or swollen gums

  • Uncomfortable and can be very painful.
  • May bleed when you brush or floss.
  • Blunted papilla between the teeth or no papilla.
  • Typically dark pink, red, blue or purple.
  • Rolled margin along the teeth.

Five major causes for sore gums

Swollen gums are often blamed to be caused by the bacteria present in plaque which appears due to improper oral hygiene. The bacteria in plaque may cause your gums to get inflamed, which results in red, swollen, or bleeding gums.

Swollen gums aren’t just result of gum disease. Here are five different factors that can create swollen sore gums:


Gingivitis is a term for inflammation of the gums. It is the most initial phase of gum disease and tends to result in redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gum tissue, typically, when you brush or floss your teeth, or take a bite into something hard like an apple. (1)

The cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis or even tooth loss and other severe conditions.

Symptoms of gingivitis involve gums that are swollen, puffy, receding, and sometimes tender or that bleed easily. Treatment includes a professional cleaning as well as oral rinses.


Most of the pregnant women have swollen, red, tender gums that may bleed when flossed or brushed. This gum inflammation during pregnancy is known as pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. (2)

Pregnancy gingivitis is partly caused by hormonal changes that make your gums more sensitive to the bacteria present in plaque. Eat a healthy diet and Have at least one oral checkup with your dentist during pregnancy.

Malnutrition and illness

An illness that targets the immune system, as well as malnutrition or even chronic stress, can be damaging to your gum health. Vitamin deficiencies may induce changes in the oral cavity.

Vitamin C Deficiency is called scurvy and results in defective collagen formation and maintenance of gums. This type of gingivitis can rapidly progress to periodontal disease.

When autoimmune disorders affect the white blood cells which are primarily responsible for immunity, it can result in tender gums without much bleeding. (3)

Dental appliances

Dental appliances like braces, dentures, retainers, and mouth guards, can cause gum irritation. In addition to sore gums, there might also be the presence of marks or imprints on your gums that is left by the dental device.

Your mouth is a sensitive area of the body, and it doesn’t always respond to foreign objects favorably.

Gum irritation can also be occurred by chemicals present in the products you use to clean or apply your dental appliance. If it continues to bother you, it may be a vital issue to discuss with your dentist or orthodontist.


Certain medications can cause a buildup of gum tissue, a condition known as gingival overgrowth. Gum tissue becomes so swollen that it begins to grow over your teeth.

This Gingival overgrowth due to side effects of medications increases your risk of periodontal disease.

Medications like Dilantin, phenobarbital or calcium channel blockers are considered having swollen, sore gums as a side-effect. Consider it or not but the new medication you have started can be the reason of your swollen gums without bleeding.


If your gums have been swollen for more than two weeks, you should see your dentist. Your dentist will ask questions about your symptoms and how often they occur.

Your dentist may recommend a full mouth dental X-rays. The dentist may also want to know if you’re pregnant or if you’ve had any major recent changes in your diet. They may suggest blood tests to check for an infection.

Home remedies

Having swollen gums reflect that something is wrong with your body. Swollen gums are needed to be treated carefully. Here are some tips you can perform at home and efficiently treat your swollen gums –

  1. Brush and floss very gently, so you don’t irritate the inflamed gums.
  2. Eat cold foods as they can help reduce the swelling and numb the pain of swollen gums.
  3. Rinse your mouth with a lukewarm saltwater solution to remove bacteria from your mouth.
  4. Avoid irritants, such as strong mouthwashes, alcohol, and tobacco.
  5. Tea tree oil can give you instant relief from inflamed gums. Mix few drops of tea tree oil with your mouthwash before rinsing.
  6. Turmeric has many healing properties such as pain relief, reduction of swelling and getting rid of bacteria in your mouth.
  7. Drink lots of water. Water helps stimulate the production of saliva, which prevents accumulation of disease-causing bacteria in the mouth.

Conventional medical treatment

After diagnosis depending on the cause of your swollen gums, your dentist will decide your treatment plan. Your dentist may prescribe you oral rinses that help prevent gingivitis and reduce plaque. In some cases, even antibiotics are suggested if necessary.

  1. Anti-inflammatory medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help you get relief from the inflammation.
  2. Scaling and root planning can be helpful to scrape away diseased gums, dental plaque, and calculus, or tartar, from the roots of the teeth to allow the remaining gums to heal.
  3. In extreme cases of gingivitis, you may need surgery to remove the extra tissue.
  4. Products containing benzocaine can be applied topically to provide numbing relief to sore gums.
  5. Antibiotics can be given in case of microbial infection. (4)


Swollen gums can definitely be uncomfortable and painful, but this condition is curable with proper diet and good oral hygiene.

Getting optimum calcium, vitamin C, and folic acid can help ensure good health of gums. People who don’t get sufficient calcium on a daily basis are more likely to develop gum diseases.

Swollen gums are a widespread problem, and can have a number of different causes. Gingivitis is not the only reason for swollen gums. There are other causes like pregnancy various medication or through the usage of dental appliances.

If you are suffering from a gum swelling that lasts longer than a few days, then you should contact your dental professional.