Most often, when you think about oral health, the first things that usually comes to our mind are cavities or tooth decay and how to prevent them from occurring. We tend to take little note of our gums but it is very important to take care of our gums as they are not just crucial to our oral health but, also to our general health.

Many things can cause swelling gums and most times when the gums swell and bleed it is usually a sign of gum disease despite this, there are a bunch of other factors that can contribute to gum swelling.

How You Brush Your Gums

Our brushing technique can lead to swelling in our gums. In a bid to keep up with having healthy oral hygiene, we can be aggressive and vigorous when brushing and because the gums are delicate tissue, if the brushing is too aggressive or vigorous, you can end up hurting the gum.

The solution to this is simple. First, find a toothbrush with soft nylon bristles which have blunt ends and toss out your hard or even medium-hard bristle toothbrush. It does not matter if the toothbrush you pick is manual or electric as long as the bristles are soft and bunt.

Secondly, when you are brushing, ensure that you do it in a gentle circular motion. This does not only serve to clean the teeth but it also massages the gum. Be careful not to brush in the regular bath and forth motion that most people are used to as this is most likely going to irritate and damage the gum, making the gum recede, bleed and can very much lead to the gum swelling.

How You Floss

As important as flossing is to oral health, the intensity and frequency of how we do it can actually affect the gums. Flossing is important because it helps to remove food particle and plaque from areas where the toothbrush cannot reach in the mouth, however; experts have warned us to be careful when flossing and not to be aggressive as over flossing can also damage the gums causing them to swell. They also advise that instead of forcing it down in between your teeth, you should just slide the floss carefully between the teeth.

The Gum Disease Factor

Gum diseases are diseases that are caused by plaque. Generally when the bacteria in the mouth form plaque on the teeth. This bacterial infection is what causes the gums to swell, get inflamed, get red and even bleed. This is called gingivitis and if it is not detected and treated early, it can get worse and lead on to periodontitis which is a very serious condition where the gums and bones are gradually weakened and destroyed. Basically, there is a release of toxic substances from the bacteria on the teeth and these toxic substances cause damage to the gums making them infected. The resulting reaction that takes place when the body fights this bacteria causes an inflammation that can further damage your bones and, even go as far as causing damage to your jaw. This infection can cause the gum to swell and they can be painful and even bleed. If this is left without treatment, it would eventually lead to the loss of the infected tooth or teeth.

The Canker Sores Factor

Canker sores are usually painful with red edges and a whitish colour in the centre. The cause of these sores is still largely unknown as they could either be caused by viruses or by bacteria. They usually can develop anywhere inside the mouth and is usually not contagious however, people who possess certain autoimmune diseases may be at risk of developing gum issues caused by canker sores. There can be just one sore at a spot or there can be several sores at different spots at the same time. When one of these sores is sited on the gum, it can cause irritation and cause the gum to swell. It is also important to note that these sores are often recurring.

The Chemotherapy Factor

Despite the numerous side effects that come with receiving chemotherapy, it seems that the gums are not left out of its wrath. One of the side effects of chemotherapy just happens to include gum swelling, painful gums and bleeding gums.

The Tobacco Factor

It is no secret that tobacco products and cigarettes damage the teeth but did you know that it wreaks havoc on the gums too? The use of cigarettes and tobacco products leave the gums vulnerable and prone to all sorts of gum issues. It has been seen that people who smoke have a higher rate of developing one gum disease or the other. Usually, symptoms of gum issues resulting from smoking habits start from gum sensitivity, bleeding gums, painful sores on the gums and then, they progress to swelling gums, inflamed gums and ultimately can lead to gum disease.

The Hormonal Factor

Hormones are a funny thing and so should really not be taken lightly. As unpredictable as it is, it can also cause gum swelling for a number of reasons.

Puberty: During puberty, there is an increase in the hormone level of a woman’s body and this, in turn, can cause an increase in the flow of blood to the gums. This increased flow of blood to the gum can then result in making the gums sensitive, red and swollen.

Menstruation: For some women, they may experience what is called a case of menstrual gingivitis. Menstrual gingivitis is a condition that occurs in some women during their menstrual periods. At these times, the change in hormones can cause the development of gingivitis thereby causing the gum to become red and swollen and sometimes even bleed before their menstrual periods. However, this condition usually subsides after the menstrual period starts.

Pregnancy: During the course of pregnancy, some women may experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This condition would usually manifest itself around the second or third month and last up until the eight months. This condition follows the changes in the hormone levels in the body giving rise to a constant case of gingivitis. This, in turn, causes the gums to bleed, causes sore to appear in the mouth and causes gum swelling too.

Birth Control: As we know, oral forms of birth control contain hormones which alter the hormone levels in a woman’s body, therefore, making use of oral birth control products can be led to gum swelling as a result of hormonal changes.

Menopause: This is rather uncommon but is still a factor to be considered. Rarely, during menopause, because of the changing hormones in a woman’s body, the gums may tend to get dry. When the gums get dry, they can lead to the development of sores and as a result of this, the gums may swell and most likely would bleed.

The Stress Factor

We all know that stress has been a leading cause of so many health issues in the world today, it should come as no surprise that stress can actually affect the gums. When our stress levels are high, it would affect the level of our hormones especially the hormone cortisol. Cortisol in itself, in turn, causes inflammations throughout the body and the gums would most likely be no exception. When the gums are inflamed due to a rise in cortisol levels in the body, it leads to gum swelling which in turn can lead to gum bleeding.

How to prevent swollen gums

Prevention of gum swelling is very largely dependent on taking care of your oral hygiene. Although there are several causes of swollen gums, poor hygiene just happens to be the major causative factor. Here are some tips to help guide you on how to prevent your gums from swelling

Brush your teeth properly and frequently

Using the proper brushing technique when brushing is important not just to ensure clean teeth but to prevent damaging of the gum in the process of brushing as this can lead to irritation and infections thereby causing the gum to swell. When brushing ensure that you use a soft nylon bristle toothbrush and brush in gentle circular motions. This technique is effective for both getting the teeth clean and massaging the gums. The soft bristles ensure that the toothbrush does not damage the gum although you should not be aggressive when brushing, even with a soft-bristled toothbrush. The circular massaging motion of the brushing technique also helps to relax the gums and increase blood flow.

Use Your Floss Regularly

Flossing is very important for our oral health as it helps to reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar that is caused by remnants of food particles between the teeth. As important as it is, it can be overdone and so it is advised to be careful and not to get aggressive when flossing so as not to cause damage to the gums as this would cause irritations which would lead to gum swelling. We are advised to, therefore, slide the floss carefully between the teeth instead of forcing it down towards the gum.

Do Not Forget About Mouthwash

An awful lot of debris and food particles are left in hidden corners of the mouth and in between the teeth even after brushing so, we are therefore advised to rinse out the mouth properly and regularly especially after having a meal or a snack as this would help to clear out the debris and food particles that are left in the mouth. We are also advised to rinse the mouth with a mouthwash especially an antiseptic mouthwash as this has the ability to kill the bacteria the cause gum diseases which lead to gum swelling.

What You Eat Matters

A good and healthy diet is important when we want to have and maintain good oral health and so having a properly balanced diet can help improve and strengthen the health of the gums. Also, having a diet with plenty of vitamin c and calcium in your diet can help reduce the chances of developing gums diseases and in turn reduce your chances of developing gum swelling

Water Is Your Friend

Drinking plenty of water does not only benefit your body but benefits your mouth too. First of all, water helps you constantly wash food particles and debris in the mouth especially after you have had a meal and you cannot get access to brush. Also, water not only keeps the body hydrated but keeps the mouth hydrated too.  This means that the gums do not get dry and the probability of developing sores is low which in turn reduces the rate of gum swelling.

Get Rid Of Tobacco

We know already that tobacco destroys the gums and leaves it prone to sores, blisters, bleeding and swelling. It is advised to get rid of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Mind Hot and Cold Food and Drinks

One of the major signs of gum issues is sensitivity to extremely cold or hot food. Constantly taking food at extreme temperatures would weaken the gum leaving it sensitive to even lukewarm or cool foods. This sort of gum sensitivity could be a sign of a gum issue that could eventually lead to gum swelling

Unwind and Relax

As mentioned earlier, stress is a leading cause of so many health issues in the world today and when our stress levels are high, it can affect the level of our hormones especially the hormone cortisol which in turn would cause inflammations leading up to gum swelling. It is advised to relax and distress to make sure that the cortisol levels are normal.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Your dentist should probably be your best friend if you want to maintain good oral health. Keeping your dental visits regular ensure that you are in control of your dental health and, you can detect any signs of gum diseases early enough to treat it or reverse it before it gets any worse.