What Does it Mean When Gums are Puffy?

There are many possible causes of puffy, swollen or bleeding gums. However, for most adults, the most common cause of puffy gums is the early stages of gum disease. If you have noticed recently that you have swollen gums, you may be wondering what it means. Below is more information on some of the common causes of puffy and swollen gums and some tips on how to treat the condition.

Common Causes of Puffy Gums

If you have noticed your gums are puffy and the swelling has lasted for more than 2 weeks you should contact your dentist and schedule an appointment. Your dentist will help you determine what is causing your swollen gums, and get you started on treating them. Some of the possible causes of puffy gums include:

  • Brushing Technique: Even though you are just trying to keep your teeth and gums clean, you might be brushing your teeth too vigorously. Gums are made of delicate tissue, and aggressive brushing could irritate or damage this tissue. If you notice your gums are puffy, you could try switching to a tooth brush with soft nylon bristles. When you brush, try focusing on making gentle circular motions. The back-and-forth motion that many patients use when brushing their teeth can irritate the gums and cause swelling.
  • Flossing Technique: Daily flossing is important in removing plaque from hard to reach places. But, aggressive flossing can also cause swollen or bleeding gums. The best technique to floss safely is to slide the floss up and down, following the curve of each tooth.
  • Gum Disease: Over 75% of adults have some degree of gum disease. Neglecting daily oral hygiene allows bacteria and plaque to buildup on the teeth. This buildup can cause the early stages of gum disease, when the gums become puffy, red or even bleed. The earliest stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, can be treated and reversed if it is identified early. Left untreated, gingivitis can worsen and lead to more dangerous stages of gum disease.
  • Tobacco Products: Using cigarettes and other tobacco products can cause severe damage to the gums. Smoking regularly can cause irritation to the gums, bleeding and painful sores.
  • Gums and Hormones: Changes in hormones during menstruation cycles or pregnancy can cause blood to rush to the gums, leading to sore, swollen, and bleeding gums. Although less common, some women also find that their gums become dry and sore during menopause.

Tips to Treating and Preventing Swollen Gums

If you notice your gums have been puffy and swollen for more than 2 weeks, you should call your dentist and make an appointment. If it has been less than 2 weeks, or if you are waiting to see your provider, here are some strategies you can try to reduce the swelling in your gums:

  • Gentle brushing and flossing daily: Maintaining good daily hygiene is the most important thing you can do to prevent gum problems.
  • Use mouthwash: Rinsing with mouthwash will help to kill bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • Increase your drinking of water: Drinking more water can help wash excess food off your teeth and produce more saliva, both reducing plaque.

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