Puffy or Bleeding Inflamed Gums
Patients suffering from swollen, inflamed gums know the condition can be seriously uncomfortable. While gum disease is the most common cause of inflammation, tobacco use, hormone changes, chemotherapy, dental hardware irritation, and improper flossing and brushing can also contribute to the issue.
Gum disease is so prevalent that more than 50 percent of adult Americans experience it during their lifetime. As such, inflammation is common and depending on its severity, could indicate one of two forms of disease:
- Gingivitis: Millions of Americans are affected by gingivitis each year. An initial, and relatively mild, form of gum disease, gingivitis is often identifiable by inflamed gums that may bleed when flossing or brushing. Gingivitis itself is not serious but if left untreated, the condition can progress into a more advance form of gum disease.
- Periodontitis: Should gingivitis be left untreated, it can advance to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Once periodontitis develops, the gums become further inflamed leading to more pain. Furthermore, the teeth may begin to loosen as gum tissue and bone structures break down. Seeking treatment for periodontitis and gum inflammation is critical to ensuring long-term oral health.
How to Treat Inflamed Gums
Early gum disease, and the associated inflammation, can be easily treated if addressed early in the process. Taking the following steps can help protect restore the health of the mouth and gums.
- Modify your brushing technique: Over-aggressive brushing can damage the gum tissue surrounding the teeth and lead to inflammation. Using a soft-bristled brush in a less-vigorous motion, can ensure the gums are not damaged when cleaning.
- Diligent flossing: After meals, food particles and debris can remain between the teeth that lead to plaque and tartar buildup. By gently flossing (daily or after meals), the particles are removed, and plaque is avoided. As with brushing, flossing should not be overly aggressive or the patient risks damaging the gum tissue.
- Rinse regularly: Like flossing, rinsing the mouth after meals or snacks can help remove food particles, debris, and bacteria that contribute to gum disease. If no alternatives are available, water can be effective in removing debris but using a mouthwash formulated for gum health is ideal to incorporate into an oral care routine. These mouthwashes are better at neutralizing plaque bacteria and combating early signs of gingivitis.
- Change toothpaste: There are a variety of toothpastes on the market but some are more specialized than others. For example, patients suffering from tooth sensitivity may benefit from using a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitivity. Other patients may benefit from toothpastes designed to repair enamel if gum disease has caused weakening to the tooth surface.
- Improve nutrition: A well balanced diet of nutrient rich foods is not only vital to overall health, it contributes to oral health as well. Ensure adequate calcium and Vitamin C as these can minimize the likelihood of gum inflammation.
- De-stress: High stress levels can impact hormone levels, such as cortisol. Because cortisol is associated with inflammation and gum swelling, de-stressing can help reduce the production of cortisol and associated affects.