While healthy gums are pink and firm, unhealthy gums appear red, inflamed and puffy. They may bleed, or feel sore when chewing or brushing your teeth. So, what causes swollen gums? While they can be caused by many things, swollen gums are typically a symptom of early gum disease.i
Other possible causes of swollen gums related to gum disease include:
- Poor dietiv, v
- Certain medicationsvi
- Smoking or chewing tobaccovii
- Hormonal changesviii
It's essential to visit your dentist if your gums are swollen, sore or bleeding. They will be able to identify the cause, as well as provide advice on the best treatment for your swollen gums.
What Causes Swollen Gums?
Swollen gums can be seen in all stages of gum periodontal disease, including gingivitis (early gum disease) and periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Gum disease is a relatively common condition and, in its advanced stage, periodontitis, it affects roughly half of US adults over the age of 30.ii Periodontitis is a major cause of tooth loss in adults if left untreated. The good news is that gum disease is reversible if treated in its mildest form of gingivitis.ii
A diet lacking in essential vitamins from fruits and vegetables can contribute to swollen gums if the body is not getting proper nutrients to help fight gum inflammation.iii, iv, v
Brushing or Flossing Too Hard
Brushing or flossing too vigorously may irritate the gums around your teeth and cause them to become swollen.
Swollen gums or other soft tissues can be a side effect of some medications. Speak to your doctor or dentist if you are concerned the medication you are taking may be affecting your gums.vi
Smoking or Using Tobacco
Smoking cigarettes and cigars or chewing tobacco puts you at twice the risk of developing gum disease as a non-smoker, and makes it harder for your gums to heal from any infection that may be causing swollen gums.vii
In women, hormonal changes associated with menstruation, pregnancy or menopause in the presence of dental plaque that is left on your teeth can lead to swollen gums.viii