Preventing Gum Swelling - Taking Care of Your Gums
Gum swelling is incredibly common, so if you're noticing some discomfort don't panic. In most cases, it doesn't pose a serious threat and it's typically easy to treat.
There are actually quite a few different causes that lead to gum inflammation. It's as important to take preventive action towards swelling as it is to manage existing pain. If you notice any swelling or discomfort, you can give yourself a few days to see if the reaction is just temporary. At that point, it's probably time to make an appointment with your dentist.
So what are the most common reasons behind the inflammation of your gums?
Frequent Causes of Gum Swelling
Gingivitis is probably the most severe common cause, so let's address this first. There are numerous potential remedies, but we'll mention a few of the most popular. You want to make sure you're using antibacterial toothpaste to eliminate plaque, even after brushing. It is also a good idea to brush more frequently during the day than normal. You should consider brushing twice a day for 2 minutes and flossing at least once.
Lack of Vitamin C
A lack of nutrients, especially Vitamin C, can also cause gum swelling. Without it, your gums lose their natural ability to grow, heal, and repair tissue. You know what we're going to tell you- eat those veggies and fruits!
Another factor to consider is if you've recently begun taking a new medication. Gum inflammation is a common side effect of many prescription drugs. You should meet with your doctor and inquire about other possible solutions. If there aren't any substitutions for your medication, it's best to limit your intake as much as possible.
The last common cause that leads to swelling is switching oral hygiene products. If you've been using a particular product for a while, your mouth has adapted to its ingredients. But, if you're now using a new wash or toothpaste, its ingredients may cause irritation. In some cases, your mouth may just need to adapt. But if your discomfort lasts for a week or longer, then you should stop using the toothpaste/mouthwash.
My Gums Are Swollen. Now What?
You know what you can do to prevent gum inflammation, but what if it's already happening? Here's how to eliminate the swelling:
Step Up Your Oral Hygiene Routine
Whether or not gingivitis is the cause, it's probably in your best interest to brush and floss more. You'll help eliminate any disease or infection that may be harming your teeth. It is important to opt for a toothpaste that is rich in fluoride. This chemical compound fights off bacteria (and tooth decay) by strengthening tooth enamel. You may also want to ask your dentist about obtaining prescription-grade mouthwash. Unlike over-the-counter rinses, this kind is made of chlorhexidine gluconate. Its key ingredients are much more powerful for fighting off bacteria. Lastly, you should rinse your mouth regularly with a salt water solution. This will help curb inflammation and reduce pain/discomfort from swelling.
Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco
These substances can really aggravate your gums if you're already experiencing pain. Alcohol and tobacco create a plaque build-up on your teeth, so they further deepen the problem. A person's alcohol use correlates with their overall oral health. People who regularly consume alcohol are more likely to develop periodontal disease. (The severity of periodontal disease is usually reflective of their alcohol usage.) Tobacco consumption can also have some more serious, long-term effects on your mouth. Alcohol and tobacco are the second largest causes for developing oral cancer.
Rinse Like It's Nobody's Business
You don't even have to rely on mouthwash or salt-water (although these are much more effective solutions). If these liquids are difficult to use, you can stick to plain water. Whatever you're comfortable using- get on it! Any type of rinse will help remove food particles and debris, which is the cause of plaque build-up. Rinsing also helps eliminate the carbohydrates that lead to plaque. You should develop a habit of rinsing after you eat, even if it's just a snack. You'll notice a huge difference in not only your gum health, but also the appearance of your teeth.
Eliminate Stress As Much As Possible
Here's something you probably never knew about gum swelling. The severity of your inflammation can often be connected to stress levels. Cortisol, the "stress hormone" is found in nearly all of your body's cells. Your gums are no exception. When you're experiencing high-stress, cortisol is produced and causes the body to react. The natural reaction of the mouth is gum inflammation. So, the best way to eliminate this is to lift any stress that's lingering around. Take more breaks, go to yoga, use essential oils- whatever method you use to relieve stress, practice it!
Floss Regularly and Thoroughly
It's not enough to just wait for your bi-annual dentist appointment to clean between the teeth. You need to be proactive in flossing to prevent gum inflammation. When flossing, be careful to avoid causing further discomfort to your inflamed gums. It is important to be very gentle and avoid force, as that will result in more damage to your gums. If you're able, try to floss twice a day and always after big meals. At a minimum, you should be flossing at least once daily, after your last meal of the day.
Let's Fight That Gum Swelling
As we mentioned, gum inflammation isn't usually a serious factor so it is not necessary to worry excessively. However, if you notice that the swelling is not improving after a few days then it is smart to schedule a consultation with a dental professional.
So, if you're experiencing some oral pain or discomfort, Dr. Christopher Mucci and Dr. Meghan Campfield want to help out! We encourage you to contact our Latrobe dental office and find out what makes us different.