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What Causes Gum Swelling?

Alex Tree
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Gum swelling is a common occurrence with many possible causes, including pregnancy, gum disease, and sensitivity to a new toothpaste or mouthwash. In addition, ill-fitting dental devices can cause the gums to swell, though orthodontic braces or retainers may also be at fault. Along with puffy gums, the person may experience gum pain, bleeding gums, and general gum redness. Most often, gum swelling is not serious or incurable, and seeing a dentist can help pinpoint the cause and determine the best course of action.

Diseased gums are often the fault of plaque that was not removed and eventually built up enough to irritate the gums. Gingivitis is a common gum disease, with symptoms usually including tender and painful gums, redness, and slight to severe swelling of the gums. Getting rid of this disease requires the affected person to have better oral hygiene habits. If more frequent and longer brushing does not help, seeing a dentist for a cleaning is generally highly recommended. Preventing gingivitis is basically the same as reversing it, involving better oral hygiene habits to prevent the buildup of plaque.

Dentures or other dental devices that no longer fit properly can also irritate the gums, leading to gum swelling and pain. In this case, a dentist may be able to adjust the device to fit better or have a new device created. Gum swelling can also be the fault of dental braces or retainers, which are typically used to align the teeth in a more appealing position. These devices move the teeth by applying pressure to them, which in turn can cause temporary gum swelling. The swelling usually occurs or is more noticeable when the braces are tightened or the retainers are swapped for snugger-fitting ones.

Sensitivity to toothpaste or mouthwash is yet another possible cause of gum swelling. If a new toothpaste or mouthwash was used the same day the gums began to swell, the affected person can try switching back to the old paste or wash. Usually if the switch appears to solve the problem, sensitivity to the new products was the problem.

During pregnancy, the human body undergoes hormonal changes that have a lot of consequences. One of these consequences is increased blood flow and fluid retention, which, among other things, can cause the gums to swell. This gum swelling is also known as pregnancy gingivitis, and many health professionals advise women to take extra care of their oral hygiene during pregnancy in order to avoid complications.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and The Health Board contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
Discussion Comments
By stoneMason — On Aug 08, 2013

@fify-- You probably have gingivitis, that's what happened to me. After I started brushing and flossing more frequently and getting my teeth cleaned-up by the dentist every six months, the swelling has gone away.

Initially, when you start brushing and flossing more, it does cause some bleeding and irritation because the gums are not used to it. But after a while, the gums get used to it and become healthier. Regular brushing increases blood circulation and reduce gum swelling.

By fify — On Aug 07, 2013

@ddljohn-- Wow! I didn't know that it's possible to be allergic to fluoride. Maybe I will try fluoride-free toothpaste as well.

I think I have gum swelling because I forget to brush though. I definitely brush in the morning, but sometimes I forget to do it before I go to sleep. I know I have to brush more regularly and floss too.

My toothbrush is also very important. Once, I used a toothbrush with hard bristles and it caused bleeding and swollen gums. I can only use a toothbrush with extra-soft bristles.

By ddljohn — On Aug 07, 2013

I think I'm allergic to fluoride in toothpaste. I've been suffering from swollen and sore gums for months. A few days ago, I found a fluoride-free toothpaste at a health store and thought I'd give it a try.

The swelling went away after I started using this toothpaste! I can't believe it!

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and The Health Board contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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