In this article
The gingiva, or gums, are pink tissue lining your upper and lower jaws. They hold your teeth in place. With poor dental hygiene, harmful bacteria can infect the gums. This can lead to swollen, red, and bleeding gums.
Gum inflammation is painful and can be a warning sign of gum disease (periodontal disease). Diseased gums can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss if left untreated.
This article explains the reasons why your gum may be swollen around one tooth. It also discusses common medical treatments and how to relieve pain and promote healing at home.
If you’ve had an inflamed gum for more than a few days, see a dentist to determine the cause.
The most common causes of swollen gums include a tooth abscess, gum disease, and poor dental hygiene. There may also be food stuck around the tooth.
Brushing or flossing too forcefully can also cause swollen gums. A more gentle brushing technique can solve this.
Here are the main causes of a swollen gum around a single tooth:
Good oral hygiene is necessary to ensure food debris don’t get trapped under your gums. Trapped food debris can cause plaque buildup and make your gum swollen around one tooth.
In addition to swollen gums, poor dental hygiene can cause:
Brushing your teeth and flossing may help dislodge the food debris. If you’re unable to reduce the swelling within a couple of days, call your dentist. Without treatment, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
More than 47% of adults over age 30 have some form of gum disease.4 There are two main types of gum disease:
Practicing good oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease.
A tooth abscess (dental abscess) is a pocket of pus that forms inside the tooth from a bacterial infection. The gums surrounding this tooth will often appear red, inflamed, and swollen. Dental abscesses can also result from gum disease.
An abscessed tooth is often painful and can be severe. Symptoms include:
Seek professional dental treatment right away if you think you have a dental abscess.
Other factors that may cause swollen gums include:
Cancer treatment can also cause inflamed gums. The technical term for this is oral mucositis — commonly known as “chemo-mouth.”
Inflammation and sores can occur as a side effect of chemotherapy, usually in the first 5 to 10 days following treatment.
Tobacco is bad for your gums. Smokers have double the risk for gum disease compared to non-smokers.4
This is for two reasons:
Smokeless tobacco can also raise your risk for gum problems, including periodontitis.9
Women are at higher risk for gum infections due to hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout their lives. The two main hormones linked to gum inflammation are estrogen and progesterone.
There are four major life stages where these changes occur:
These events all cause an increase in blood flow to the gums. This makes the gums redder, more tender, and inflamed. The use of oral contraceptives also causes hormonal changes, which can affect the gums.
Canker sores are painful ulcers that can form on the inside of the mouth, including the gums.
The cause of canker sores is often unknown. Some risk factors include a weak immune system, hormonal changes, and dietary issues.
Canker sore symptoms include:
Certain medications are known to cause swollen gums. If a person takes medication for blood pressure control (like calcium channel blockers or seizure medication), they may experience gum swelling.
Other medicines commonly known to cause swollen gums include:
Some other oral infections that can lead to gum swelling include:
A variety of treatments can reduce gum inflammation. These include home remedies and professional treatments.
Here’s how you can reduce swelling at home:
Your dentist will start by asking questions about when the symptoms began. They may order an X-ray and blood tests to check for further infection.
Professional dental treatments may include:
If the gums are seriously infected, you may need to see a gum specialist, or a periodontist.
According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, New Mouth’s resident dentist, “Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory issues and can be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment.”
Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent swollen gums and promote dental health. Tips to avoid gum swelling and infection include:
Call your dentist if you have swollen gums that don’t resolve after a couple of weeks. Also call them if you have symptoms of gum disease, dental abscess, or other oral health problems described above.
Swollen gums can be a sign of gingivitis or other oral problems. Severe ulcers, canker sores, or persistent gum soreness are all issues that require professional dental care.
Swollen gums around a single tooth is usually caused by poor dental hygiene, gum disease, or dental abscesses. Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent swollen gums and other dental issues.
Home remedies may help reduce swelling. See your dentist if your swollen gums last longer than a couple of weeks, or if you have symptoms of gum disease or an abscess.
In this article