We could say that everyone has suffered from gum inflammation at some point. This discomfort is more common than we think and we pay less attention to it than we should.
But why do our gums become inflamed? Usually, the cause is poor or deficient oral hygiene: when plaque, which is a soft, sticky substance that forms in the mouth throughout the day and contains millions of bacteria, is not properly removed from the mouth.
Turning the situation around can be as simple as becoming aware at every brushing (minimum twice a day), which involves brushing correctly and for the necessary time and flossing to prevent plaque from lodging under the gums and interdentally.
Keep in mind that plaque that is not removed from between the teeth will eventually harden into tartar which, unfortunately, cannot be treated with a toothbrush alone. When this happens, that’s when you need to see your dentist for a professional cleaning. It is recommended to schedule a dental hygiene annually and depending on the case every 6 months to ensure optimal maintenance of the gums.
Sometimes, even if you maintain a perfect cleaning protocol, your gums may become inflamed and that could be a sign of an underlying problem.
If your gums have not returned to normal within two weeks, experts recommend that you consult your dentist.
Curious about what could be the source of the problem? Here are 5 possible reasons why your gums could be inflamed:
1. It could be gingivitis.
Inflammation of the gums is called gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Over time, bacteria produced by food form a film of plaque on the teeth. If not cleaned, the plaque turns into tartar, a hard plaque that you can no longer remove with simple brushing.
Because it does not cause pain at first, people do not realize that the plaque has turned into tartar and if it is not treated as soon as possible, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis (gum disease and tooth decay).
2. Something between the teeth.
If only one tooth or one region of your mouth is swollen, it may be that a food particle (e.g., a seed) is trapped under the gums. This makes the swelling localized and bothersome, so if it goes from minor discomfort to significant pain, you should see your dentist.
3. It could be an infection.
One of the most common infections that can cause gum inflammation – especially in children, but also in adults – is called gingivostomatitis. This infection can be the result of a viral or bacterial infection, and is often accompanied by the appearance of oral thrush.
Although the body can usually fight the infection on its own over time, discomfort may lead you to consult your dentist, who will prescribe an antibiotic if necessary or recommend a chlorhexidine-based topical gel to reduce discomfort.
4. A medication is causing side effects.
Some commonly prescribed medications can cause gum inflammation as a side effect, including blood pressure drugs containing calcium channel blockers such as verapamil and diltiazem.
5. You have a vitamin deficiency.
Vitamin deficiencies are not as common as they used to be, but we still see swollen gums due to a lack of some vitamins, especially among older patients who do not follow a balanced diet.
Many vitamins play a role in good oral health, but insufficient intake of vitamins B and C often results in inflamed gums, with vitamins C and D being key elements in gum improvement.
If you notice any discomfort in your gums and suspect that it may be due to any of these causes, do not hesitate to call us and get to work to solve the problem before it becomes more serious.