A healthy mouth often acts like the best barometer for predicting an individual’s overall health. While we often focus on how healthy and attractive looking our teeth when determining the current state of our oral health, the gums can actually tell us and your dentist in West Linn far more information. When our gums become inflamed, swollen, or start to bleed, they often tell us far more than our teeth ever could.
What causes gums to become swollen? Well, the answer to this question is often poor oral hygiene and not enough visits to see a dentist in West Linn. Poor oral hygiene allows plaque, a sticky biofilm comprised of harmful oral bacteria, to build up on the surface of our teeth and along the gum line. Plaque produces harmful substances that erode away tooth enamel, eventually leading to the development of cavities, while also causing gum inflammation and swelling.
While plaque and poor oral hygiene are often to blame for gum swelling, there are other causes that may even indicate a more serious underlying health problem. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of reasons why your gums may feel a little tender.
Early Stage Gum Disease
When plaque causes gum tissue to become swollen and inflamed, it’s usually accompanied by an underlying infection called gum disease. Early stage gum disease, commonly known as gingivitis, is often identified by gums becoming swollen, red, tender, and bleeding.
Gingivitis can often go undetected until it becomes a far more serious problem known as periodontitis, a severe form of the disease. Periodontitis can permanently impact an individual’s oral health by causing teeth to shift, become loose, and even fall out.
If your gums feel swollen or look red and inflamed, you need to schedule an exam with Dr. Dugger to determine whether gingivitis is to blame before the problem becomes far more serious.
You Have Something Stuck Between Your Teeth
If only one area of your mouth appears swollen, it may simply be the result of you having something stuck between your teeth. While brushing and flossing will remove most lingering food particles from between your teeth, there’s always a chance that a pesky particle, such as a popcorn kernel, could become lodged beneath the gum line.
When food lodges under the gum line, the body fights back like it would with any foreign invader. The body’s natural defense mechanism, the immune system, causes the tissue surrounding the impacted particle to become swollen and inflamed.
Fortunately, you can usually dislodge the pesky particle by spending a little more time flossing the affected area. However, if the inflammation becomes more than just a minor nuisance and starts to cause some serious discomfort, you need to seek medical attention from a dentist in West Linn.
A New Medication May Be Causing an Unwanted Side Effect
A number of commonly prescribed medications can cause gum swelling as an unwanted side effect, including medication used to treat blood pressure. These types of medication contain compounds that can buildup in gum tissue, leading to inadvertent swelling.
If you discover that your gums are swelling shortly after taking a new medication, check with your dentist in West Linn to determine if your medication may be to blame.
You’re Dealing with a Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamin deficiencies don’t cause as many problems as they once did, but malnutrition can still cause gum inflammation, especially in seniors. When seniors experience permanent tooth loss, they typically make a switch to eating softer foods that often fail to provide enough nutritional support. While malnutrition can have several effects on the body, such as weight loss, gum inflammation may be one of the easiest to spot.
A variety of vitamins play an important role in helping to maintain body, but a deficiency of vitamins B and C can often have the biggest impact on our oral health. Making the switch to a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables can make a difference, but so can adding extra vitamin K to your diet.
You Switched to a New Toothpaste
Certain types of toothpaste, such as whitening toothpaste, contain abrasive compounds that can irritate delicate gum tissue. When heavily used, these types of toothpaste can actually prove more problematic than helpful.
Brands designed to help brighten your smile should only be used temporarily, not on an everyday basis. If you find gum tissue to be more tender and swollen than usual, you should consider making the switch back to another type of toothpaste that’s a little easier on the gums.