Swollen gums can indicate a number of different dental health problems. They act like the check engine light that comes on when there is a problem in your car. In much the same way, swollen gums alert you that something is wrong. Identifying the accompanying symptoms will allow your general dentist to determine what the problem is. Here are some of the possible causes of swollen gums.

Swollen Gums: The First Sign of Gingivitis

Swollen gums are often the first sign of gingivitis, especially when they bleed or are red and irritated. Gingivitis is the most common reason for developing swollen gums. It is the first stage of gum disease; the gum inflammation is the result of the accumulation of bacteria in plaque. The symptoms of gingivitis are typically mild in the beginning, so if you notice that your gums are a little swollen and the swelling does not get better with brushing and flossing, visit your general dentist for a checkup and cleaning. If you have gingivitis, you need to get treatment as soon as possible to keep it from progressing into periodontitis, which is a more severe gum disease. If gum disease is left untreated, it can cause you to lose your teeth.

An Infection

Swollen gums can indicate that you have a viral or fungal infection. One type of fungal infection that can cause your gums to swell is thrush. If you also notice a strange white rash, talk to your doctor so that they can prescribe you with an antifungal medication. If you have herpes virus, you are susceptible to acute herpetic gingivostomatitis, and this condition causes swollen gums as well. Tooth decay can also cause infections that create abscesses and make your gums swell.

A Vitamin Deficiency

A deficiency in certain vitamins can cause your gums to swell. Deficiencies in vitamin C and B vitamins are the most common vitamin deficiencies that can result in swollen gums. If you have swollen gums and you do not eat a very nutritious diet, you may want to consider that a vitamin deficiency could be the problem. While malnutrition is not a common cause of swollen gums, it may be something you should consider, especially if you are a senior citizen experiencing swollen gums. Try adding more foods that support good dental health to your diet to make sure you are receiving the proper vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and gums.


You may be experiencing swollen gums because you are pregnant. Pregnancy hormones cause an increase in blood flow to the gums, which can cause swelling. These hormone changes can also put you more at risk of gingivitis and gum infections. It is a good idea to visit your general dentist more frequently when you are pregnant to maintain good dental health. Your dentist will be able to detect the presence of gingivitis or other dental health issues early on and provide treatment to help you keep your mouth healthy throughout your pregnancy.

Aggressive Brushing and Flossing

Brushing and flossing your teeth are two crucial steps for good dental health. However, if you do so too aggressively, you can actually do more harm than good. In order to prevent the negative effects of harsh brushing, switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and use gentle movements while brushing. When you floss, try to be gentle and carefully move the floss between your teeth to avoid irritating your gums. It could also be helpful if you switch to a toothpaste and mouthwash that are gentler on your teeth.

Home Treatments for Swollen Gums

If you have swollen gums, you can try these home treatments to reduce inflammation. Keep in mind, though, that these home remedies will not cure the underlying problem.

  • Brush and floss gently to soothe your gums and avoid further irritating them.
  • Use a saltwater rinse to get rid of extra bacteria in your mouth.
  • Increase the amount of water you drink. This will stimulate saliva production, which will in turn decrease the disease-causing bacteria in your mouth.
  • Stay away from irritants such as tobacco, alcohol, and strong mouthwashes.
  • Use a cold compress to reduce swelling. A warm compress can help decrease gum pain.

Medical Treatments for Swollen Gums

Your general dentist will determine the cause of your swollen gums by asking you questions about your symptoms and possibly performing tests such as dental x-rays or blood tests. The cause of your swollen gums will then determine the course of treatment. Your dentist may simply recommend you use a certain brand of toothpaste, or they may prescribe an oral rinse that will reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis. If you have an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. When gingivitis is severe, scaling and root planing may be the recommended treatment. This is a surgical procedure that involves scraping away diseased gums, plaque, and tartar on the teeth roots to encourage healing of the remaining gums. However, this is only necessary in extreme cases.

Receive Expert Dental Care from Your Knoxville Dentist

If you have swollen gums and they don’t seem to be getting any better, it’s time to seek the help of a dental professional. A general dentist can figure out what the problem is and provide you with the treatment necessary to fix it. When you are searching for a Knoxville dentist with the best education, skill, and technology, look to University General Dentists. Our two dentists each have over 30 years of experience providing top-notch dental care to the residents of Knoxville. We offer a full range of services and treatments to help you achieve the best dental health possible. Whether you need gum disease therapy or it’s simply time for a checkup and routine cleaning, we are here to help. For your convenience, we have two Knoxville dentist locations, one at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and one in West Knoxville. Schedule an appointment at our UT office at 865-305-9440 or at our West Knoxville office at 865-500-5700.