What Does It Mean When You Have a Swollen Gum?

Oral health can be one of the greatest signifiers of a person’s socioeconomic status in the current environment. Why is this?

Well, oral diseases can affect as many as 3.5 billion people worldwide. Despite this, in many locations, dental health is considered a luxury, not a medical necessity. Thus, many people with treatable oral health conditions go without the dental aid that they need.

A swollen gum can be a harbinger of one of these oral health issues. Or, it could be the result of brushing too hard. Before you start panicking, read on to learn more about the causes of swollen gums.

First, What Does a Swollen Gum Look and Feel Like?

It’s fairly obvious when you start experiencing swollen gums. However, if you’ve never had the condition before, you may not realize exactly what to look for. A swollen gum can seem to overtake its natural line on the tooth. As it does this, it often takes on a deeper red color than the surrounding area due to irritation and increased blood flow.

This swelling starts at the line where the gum and the tooth meet but can spread much farther. Even if there’s no obvious swelling, your gums may still be swollen if they bleed during brushing and flossing. Or, if they seem more sensitive to heat and cold than usual. If this sounds like you, be sure to check out this dentist in tampa for a checkup.

What Can Cause Swollen Gums?

Now that you have a better understanding of what swollen gums look like, let’s talk about what causes them to become this way. Some of the most common causes of swollen gums include, but are not limited to:

Oral Infections

Your mouth plays host to all kinds of microorganisms, both beneficial and not. In fact, well over 100 million of these bacteria exist on your toothbrush as a result. While most of these germs won’t cause you any trouble on a daily basis, if any sores or cuts open in your mouth, it could lead to serious infections.

Certain infections like herpes and thrush can contribute to the swelling in your gums, though they are not the only infections that can cause this symptom.

Severe Malnutrition

For most people living in first-world countries, malnutrition should not be a concern. However, if you’re not getting the right amounts of Vitamins B and C, it can lead to serious swelling in the gums. This is primarily caused by scurvy, a disease that comes from a serious deficiency in Vitamin C.

Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Most of the time, when people ask, “What do swollen gums mean?”, this is the response they’ll receive. Gingivitis is an incredibly common form of gum disease that causes swelling and pain. It can also cause the gum line to recede, developing into periodontitis.

Once that process starts happening, tooth loss becomes much more likely. If you suspect that you may have gingivitis, it’s imperative to start incorporating treatments for it into your daily brushing routine.


Among the many other systems in your body that pregnancy affects, it also causes inflamed gums. This happens due to increased blood flow caused by the hormones flooding the body due to the pregnancy. Increased blood flow leads to increased sensitivity, and thus, increased irritation.

These changes in your body’s hormone levels may also reduce your ability to fight off infections. This would lead to an increased risk of oral disease and swollen gums.

Physical Trauma to the Gum

The last common cause of a swollen gum is some form of physical trauma to the gum itself. This could be from brushing or flossing too hard. Or, it could be the result of a tortilla chip choosing violence and lodging itself in your teeth. In either case, the physical trauma causes bleeding, which can then lead to infection or simple inflammation as part of the body’s pain response.

How to Treat Inflamed Gums

So, now you understand what conditions can lead to swollen gums. However, if you’re already experiencing symptoms, that’s cold comfort. Thankfully, we have some ideas for how to treat swollen gums listed below. Your treatment options include, but are by no means limited to:

Proper Hydration

You can’t expect your gums to heal when your mouth is as dry as a desert. If you drink the right amount of water, it will help your mouth produce the saliva you need to give your gums ample moisture to recover and heal. Saliva also has properties that weaken the germs that live in your mouth.

Avoiding Abrasives

You wouldn’t rub a scraped knee with sandpaper or throw acid into an open cut. So, why would you eat acidic foods or throw alcohol onto the delicate tissues of your gums when they’re already swollen? Avoid physical and chemical abrasives while your gums heal, and you’ll see much faster recovery times.

Treat With Heat or Cold

Another tried-and-true method to handle a swollen gum is to treat it with heat. That is, to place a nice, warm compress on the side of the mouth where the swelling is located. This can handle the pain, while a cold compress can reduce your swelling.

Visit the Dentist

If you’ve tried all of the above methods, and nothing seems to work, then it’s time to visit a professional. A quick trip to the family dentist can help you stave off the problem before it becomes much worse. And, if you need help choosing a family dentist, this guide can help you figure out how to find the best pick.

Looking for More Oral Health Tips?

Dealing with a swollen gum can be an extremely painful experience. Worse still, it can be a sign that you’re fighting an oral disease. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful tips like those we listed above to save your teeth.

For more helpful oral health tips and tricks, check out the Health and Beauty section of our blog. We update each day with more handy articles like this one!

Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.