How Long Do Swollen Gums Last
Swollen gums are often a telltale sign of an underlying issue, such as periodontal disease or an infection. Although there are several potential causes of swollen gums, the majority are related to oral health or complications that arise from oral health conditions.
It is quite common for gum swelling to occur and, in most cases, it is not a serious concern. But if the swelling lasts longer than a day or two, it could indicate a larger issue like gingivitis, periodontitis, or an abscessed tooth. If the swelling is accompanied by a fever, patients are encouraged to seek prompt treatment with a dentist.
What Causes Gum Swelling?
- Food Particles Lodged in the Teeth: In some instances, gum swelling could be caused by something as simple as food debris becoming trapped in between the teeth. Popcorn kernels, for example, can get lodged between the teeth and gums. This can cause gum irritation and swelling around the affected area. Generally, any swelling will subside shortly after the food debris is removed through flossing or brushing.
- Gingivitis: The initial state of gum disease, gingivitis can cause gum irritation and swelling. The disease is amongst the most common causes of gum swelling and likely will be one of the first things a dentist will check for. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to form a more serious infection, called periodontitis.
- Infections: Viral or bacterial infections in the mouth can often lead to gum swelling. Chronic infections like herpes, for example, can lead to complications that cause gum swelling. Yeast infections, like oral thrush, can also lead to gum swelling.
- Pregnancy: Women experience rapid hormonal changes during pregnancy that can have negative impacts on oral health. As a result of the hormone changed, blood flow in the gums is increased, which makes them more susceptible to swelling.
- Other Causes: Although less common, swollen gums can be a sign of malnutrition, a side effect from certain medications, a reaction to ingredients in mouthwash or toothpaste, or be due to poorly fitting dental appliances like crowns, bridges, or dentures.
Treating swollen gums should begin with an initial consultation with a dentist. After they conduct an examination, the dentist will determine the underlying cause of swelling and be able to recommend appropriate treatment. Regular checkups and cleanings are also vital in identifying and preventing oral health issues before they develop into more serious problems.
Depending on what is causing the swelling, the dentist may recommend treatments and/or medications that may include:
- Prescription mouthwash
- Special toothpastes
A critical component of any dental treatment is to take preventative steps towards preventing gum swelling. Some steps that can be taken to prevent or ease gum swelling, include:
- Flossing after meals or daily
- Brushing two times daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Using mouthwashes and toothpastes that are not abrasive
- Avoid consuming overly sugary drinks and foods that contribute to plaque buildup
- Abstain from smoking or chewing tobacco
- Avoid mouthwashes and alcoholic beverages that dry the gums and could cause irritation
- Avoid hard foods like seeds and nuts that can get trapped between the teeth
- Ensure diet is rich in vitamins and nutrients