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Itchy gums can be frustrating and uncomfortable, and they are more common than you think.
There are many reasons why your gums may itch, from allergic reactions to dry mouth. In some cases, an itchy mouth can signify a more severe issue like gum disease, which, if left untreated, causes tooth loss.
Practicing good oral hygiene is essential for preventing gum problems. Regular brushing and flossing help remove bacteria and plaque that cause itching around the teeth and gums. Also, attend routine dental check-ups to identify and treat issues before they become serious.1
If you’re experiencing mouth discomfort, visit a dentist. They can determine the cause and recommend effective treatment.
Here are some potential causes of gum itching:
Plaque is the most common cause of itchy gums. It’s a mixture of bacteria and food debris that forms a sticky, colorless film on teeth. If plaque remains on your teeth, it will harden into tartar. The bacteria in plaque and tartar attack the gums, which causes inflammation and itchiness.
If plaque builds up on the teeth, it can lead to gingivitis or gum inflammation. This is the first stage of gum disease.2
Sensitivity and allergic reactions can cause itchy gums. You may be sensitive to certain foods, medications, or animals.
An itchy mouth may be part of an oral allergy syndrome. People with asthma or hay fever are more prone to this condition, which causes itching and swelling of the mouth, tongue, or face.3
The teeth and gums are vulnerable to hormonal fluctuations. As a result, you may experience itchy gums during hormonal changes, such as during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.
Puberty can reduce blood flow to the teeth and gums. This sometimes leads to itching. Pregnant people, however, can develop pregnancy gingivitis.3
Some people also experience itchy gums while starting or stopping birth control medications.
Usually, symptoms ease as hormones adjust and self-regulate.
Your mouth needs saliva to wash away plaque and bacteria and help with digestion. If you don’t produce enough saliva, your oral health suffers, and your gums may become dry and itchy.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) has several causes, including dehydration, medications, and smoking. Certain health conditions like diabetes can also contribute to dry mouth.4
Gum trauma or injuries can cause itching. This trauma may result from physical injuries sustained while playing sports, vigorously brushing or flossing, or using ill-fitting dental devices.
Certain behaviors can also cause gum trauma. Teeth grinding (bruxism) erodes tooth enamel and causes the gum line to recede and itch. Smoking and vaping can also cause the gums to become irritated and itchy.5
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and coxsackievirus can lead to gingivostomatitis. This inflammation of the gums and lips causes highly contagious, itchy blisters and sores. Coxsackievirus is most common in children under 6.
Many people with the condition don’t have symptoms. Others, however, become quite sick.6
Yes, sometimes itchy gums indicate gingivitis. You may have gingivitis if your gums are:
Untreated, gingivitis can progress to gum disease (periodontal disease), a dangerous condition involving the gums, supporting bone, and ligaments.2
Healthy teeth need an adequate level of bone to support them. If gum disease destroys the bone, teeth can become mobile, increasing the risk of premature loss.
Treating gingivitis is easier and less invasive than treating periodontal disease. A dentist can reverse it with early treatment. Therefore, if you notice any gingivitis symptoms, visit the dentist immediately.
Treatment for itchy gums depends on the cause. In some cases, home remedies help, while others require professional dental care.
Besides practicing good oral hygiene, the following home remedies may ease itchy gums:
If you’ve tried home remedies without success, visit your dentist for an assessment. They may suggest the following professional treatments:
According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists, “dental health is linked to overall health. If you experience gum itching for 3 or more days, your dentist will be able to help determine the root cause and prevent it from causing issues in the future.”
The best way to prevent itchy gums is to keep your teeth and gums clean and avoid irritants.
Here are some tips to prevent itchy gums:
Itchy gums have various causes, including plaque, gingivitis, trauma, and allergies. Often, it's a result of poor dental hygiene.
Home remedies, such as rinsing with tea tree oil or salt water and sucking on ice cubes, may ease symptoms. However, you may need professional treatment in more severe cases.
You can prevent itchy, inflamed gums by brushing and flossing regularly and avoiding foods that trigger symptoms. If you think you have gingivitis, see a dentist for treatment.
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