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03 Jan 2022

Do you have swollen gums? Causes and treatments

Do you feel discomfort in your gums? Are they red and swollen gums and you don’t know why? One of the reasons for inflamed gums is the accumulation of tartar and bacterial plaque, also known as biofilm, between the gum and the tooth, which causes inflammation. This is what is known as gingivitis, and if left untreated can lead, in the worst cases, to periodontitis.

They are classified as inflammatory diseases and affect the soft tissue of the gums and, if they are not diagnosed and treated in time, they can even destroy the bone that supports the teeth.

Prevalence of periodontal diseases

Periodontal diseases are a very common condition that affects a large part of the population, in fact, 30.7% of adults in Spain suffer from it and 50% of the European adult population.

It is estimated that 10% of adults over the age of 64 have lost all their teeth due to severe periodontal disease. Severe periodontitis has dire consequences for the day-to-day life of those affected, including problems in speech and chewing (due to tooth loss), worsening their quality of life.

The data in Europe is also quite enlightening on how gum disease affects the gums, with 99% of people suffering from bacteria-associated gingivitis in their lifetime. And 10 – 15% of the European population suffer from severe periodontitis.

Severe periodontitis has a close association with general health, as inflammatory diseases affecting the bloodstream are related to systemic pathologies and can lead to: myocardial infarction, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and more severe Alzheimer’s disease.

Moreover, it is not only a threat to the patient’s health but the process itself is a global burden on social, economic and healthcare systems.

Symptoms of periodontal disease

It is very important to pay attention to various factors that can warn you of the fragility of your periodontal health, which is why we at Nart Clínica Dental provide you with a guide:

– Inflamed gums
– Change in colour: from pale pink to red or purple.
– Sensitive gums
– Bleeding
– Stinging
– Halitosis or bad breath
– Pain when chewing
– Tooth mobility
– Black spaces between teeth
– Displacement of teeth.

If you detect any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Causes

What causes swollen gums? There can be several causes of swollen gums:

Poor oral hygiene

This is the main factor in the vast majority of cases. All periodontitis is caused by bacteria. Gums become inflamed due to the accumulation of bacterial plaque left on the teeth when we do not brush properly. If we do not clean the areas affected by plaque for a long time with a toothbrush and interdental tools, periodontal diseases will appear.

Nutritional deficiency

Lack of vitamins causes gums to become inflamed. Vitamin C in particular is very important because it strengthens the gums and the mucous membrane of the mouth. It even protects against gingivitis and prevents teeth from loosening.

Hormonal factors such as pregnancy or adolescence

Women are more sensitive to inflamed gums due to the endocrine system and their high production of oestrogen and progesterone hormones, which causes irrigation in the gums, favouring bleeding and inflammation.

Braces

Braces make daily hygiene more difficult, so there is a greater chance of bacterial plaque accumulating or making it more difficult to remove.

Ingestion of certain medications

The ingestion of certain drugs causes gingival hyperplasia, i.e. an exaggerated inflammation of the gums. The drugs that cause gingival hyperplasia are

Anticonvulsants: Phenytoin.
Immunosuppressants: Cyclosporin A.
Calcium channel blockers: Nifedipine, Diltiazem, Verapamil, etc.

Whatever the cause, it can all develop into periodontal disease if left untreated.

When do periodontal diseases appear?

Gingivitis

Bacterial plaque, as its name suggests, is made up of bacteria that interact with sugars and starch. It is important to remove it daily because it re-forms very quickly.

Plaque that is not removed hardens, accumulates under the gum and turns into tartar. This creates a nest of bacteria. Tartar is a protector for bacteria, which makes it difficult to remove plaque. To remove tartar it is necessary to have your teeth professionally cleaned.

If plaque and tartar are not removed for a long time, the gums around the teeth become increasingly inflamed and this is when gingivitis appears. Eventually the gums start to bleed and can even lead to tooth decay.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis appears when the gingivitis has not been treated and the inflammation is quite advanced, as the accumulation of calculus continues and we can start to see recession in the gums, that is to say, the root of the tooth starts to become more visible.

Advanced periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen, move and eventually fall out.

Treatments for gum inflammation

If you have inflammation of the gums, it is best to see your dentist or periodontist and depending on the state of your gums, you will be given one treatment or another.

The most common is to carry out various hygiene procedures, known as scaling and root planing, to eliminate periodontal pockets. On rare occasions, surgical intervention is required.

How to avoid swollen gums?

To avoid swollen gums, it is enough to have a good oral hygiene habit, using the right elements and the right frequency so as not to accumulate too much calculus:

– Brushing 2 or 3 times a day.
– Use dental floss or an interdental brush.
– Tongue cleaner
– Mouthwash

Ideally, you should have your teeth cleaned to remove tartar from your teeth every 6 months or every year to avoid plaque build-up and prevent periodontal disease.

 

Dr. José Nart Molina

Dr. Jose Nart Molina is a specialist in periodontics and dental implants. He has a degree in Dentistry from the UIC (2006) He also has a doctorate in Dentistry from the UIC, certified in periodontics and implants by the University of Tufts University (2007), accredited by the European Federation of Periodontology, Vice President of the Spanish Society of Periodontics and Osseointegration and Vice Dean of Research.

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