What Does it Mean When Gums Are Puffy

When people think about oral health, their focus is usually on taking care of their teeth and preventing cavities. But the gums also play a critical role in ensuring sound oral health.

Although there are several factors that can contribute to gum problems, if the gums become puffy, swollen, or bleed, it is often an indicator of periodontal (gum) disease. Read on to learn more about the common causes of gum swelling or puffiness.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is very common as figures show that more than 75% of Americans over the age of 35 are affected by it. For the majority of people, they will develop gingivitis, which is the initial, less severe form of the disease. Between five and 15 percent will develop periodontitis, which is a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Gum disease typically results from poor dental hygiene. If food debris and bacteria are not properly removed through flossing and brushing, plaque can buildup on the teeth. This bacterial plaque can cause gum inflammation, redness, swelling, or bleeding. In its earliest stages, the inflammation from gingivitis may not cause discomfort and if addressed early, can be reversed with better oral hygiene. But if not addressed, the disease will progress and could lead to tooth and or jawbone loss.

Regardless of any pain experienced, patients should seek treatment from a dentist if any of the following symptoms are noted:

  • Changes in how the teeth come together with chewing and biting
  • Formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums
  • Persistent bleeding after flossing or brushing the teeth
  • Teeth that loosen or shift position
  • Persistent foul taste in the mouth or bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Puffy, tender or red gums

Flossing or Brushing Technique

Patients should floss daily or after meals to help remove debris and plaque that toothbrushes cannot easily reach. So as not to cause damage, flossing should be gentle and rather than forcing the floss between the teeth, it should be carefully slid up and down the contours of each tooth.

To ensure the teeth are thoroughly clean, people are often tempted to brush them as vigorously as they can. Although tooth enamel will better withstand over-aggressive brushing, gum tissue is much more delicate and can be easily damaged.

Whether using an electric or manual toothbrush, it is recommended to choose one that has soft bristles. While medium and hard bristle brushes are options, these can damage the tooth enamel and cause gum swelling, redness, and bleeding and therefore, should be avoided.

Canker Sores

Gum issues could also be attributed to canker sores. These ulcers can form throughout the mouth, including the gums, and are generally painful. The sores are identified by white centers with red borders and can form in a single location or several areas simultaneously.


There are several unpleasant side-effects of chemotherapy and amongst them, are gum pain, swelling, and bleeding. Stomatitis, which causes painful sores and ulcers to develop in the mouth and on the gums, is one such condition that people undergoing cancer treatment often experience.

Covid 19 and Gums