What Does it Mean When Gums Are Puffy?
The oral structure that holds the teeth in place is complex, and the gums are what protect that complex structure and keep it healthy and free from disease. Oral health isn’t just about cavities; it’s about keeping the gums healthy, which helps keep the teeth and jaw healthy. Keeping the gums healthy also plays a big part in keeping a person healthy overall! So if you notice that your gums are puffy or painful, it’s a good idea to try to find out why. It could be a sign of gum disease, but it could also be something else. If your gums stay inflamed or painful for more than a week, see your dentist. Here are just some of the things that might make your gums swollen or sore.
Sometimes, brushing your teeth too vigorously can damage the gums. While the tissues of the gums are thick and fibrous, their surface is delicate, and brushing incorrectly can injure the gums. Dentists recommend using a soft-bristled brush, holding the brush gently, and brushing in soft, circular strokes. It’s also important to floss correctly, to remove plaque and debris from between the teeth and just under the gumline. When you floss, aim for the curve of your gum line, and slide the floss gently up and down, being careful not to force the floss into the gums. Your dentist or dental hygienist can demonstrate these techniques for you at your next dental visit.
Sometimes, gums can appear inflamed because of gum disease. Considerably more than half of adults in the US have gum disease. In most cases, this disease is gingivitis, which is a reversible disease that is caused by an accumulation of bacterial plaque on the teeth and below the gum line. Gingivitis is characterized by swelling in the gums, and the gums may bleed when the person is brushing or flossing, but this is usually not painful. When caught early, gingivitis can be reversed and the mouth can be restored to health with effective oral hygiene. When gingivitis isn’t treated, however, it can progress to periodontitis, which is characterized by the gums and periodontal ligaments detaching from the teeth, the bone of the jaw deteriorating, and eventually the loss of the teeth. Clearly, catching and treating gingivitis early can prevent a whole host of significant issues, so be sure to see your dentist for regular cleanings and keep all these problems at bay. Swelling in the gums can also appear due to hormonal shifts and is therefore more common in adolescents and pregnant people, and certain medical treatments, like chemotherapy, can also cause the gums to swell.
The best way to keep your gums healthy and free from inflammation is to brush your teeth after eating, at least twice a day, and use the proper brushing technique. Make sure to floss or clean the teeth with another interdental cleaning tool at least once a day, taking care to gently clean the gum line between the teeth. See your dentist periodically for professional cleanings and checkups, and ask your dentist questions about how to make your mouth healthier and happier; they’re there to take care of your teeth and also to take care of you.