How Long Do Swollen Gums Last?
Gum tissue can swell for a number of reasons, and it can be uncomfortable when they do. Most of the time, swollen gums are an indication of gum disease, and a lot of people who have gum disease don’t even know that they have it. So if you notice that your gums are swollen, pay attention, and see your dentist; inflammation isn’t normal and should be addressed. When gum disease is intercepted early on, it can be reversed, but when it progresses, it wreaks havoc on the mouth. When the gums are swollen for other reasons, the duration and treatment depends on the cause.
Most of the time, swelling in the gums is caused by plaque. Plaque is the sticky film that builds up on the surfaces of the teeth and at the gum line, causing tooth decay and inflammation in the gums. When plaque gets behind the gum tissue and isn’t thoroughly removed, it triggers an immune reaction in the body, which then triggers an immune reaction in the gum tissue, causing swelling and inflammation. If it is allowed to accumulate, plaque turns into tartar, which is calcified plaque that can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist and which increases the levels of inflammation in the gum tissue.
Swollen gums can also be caused by irritation. Some irritation is chemical, like an allergic reaction to an ingredient, and some irritation is mechanical, like when a dental appliance rubs against the gums. If you have a dental appliance that is irritating your gums, see your orthodontist for an adjustment. If you have an allergic reaction, try changing out your toothpaste; a new flavor or brand might solve the problem. If you have a metal dental restoration and you think you could be allergic to it, see your dentist.
Sometimes, food can get trapped between the teeth or under the gums, and it might feel like it’s impossible to clean it out. The tiniest piece of debris can get trapped under the gum line, where it starts to feel gigantic, causing the gum to swell visibly; think popcorn hulls. Usually, when the debris is removed, the swelling subsides, and thankfully, things like this often work their way out naturally. If you have pronounced spaces between your teeth, you may find yourself particularly plagued by swelling due to food debris after eating, and floss will usually help.
If you’ve burned your mouth, on either a piping hot cup of coffee or a freshly broiled platter of nachos, you may have experienced swelling in your gums or trauma to another area of your mouth. Thankfully, these injuries usually subside quickly. You may also find that your gum tissue is inflamed near the margin on an aging or problematic dental restoration, which may be ill-fitting and creating an overhang or nook that traps bacteria and encourages inflammation. Some people report a noticeable change in the gums during hormone fluctuations, which are more common during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. When the teeth are crooked or crowded, this can cause swelling in the gums, and certain medications can cause the gums to swell. When this is the case, the gums can be expected to return to their normal state when the medication is discontinued, which should only be initiated by the prescribing medical practitioner.