We all know gingivitis can lead to red, swollen gums. And, with all that bacteria setting up residence in your mouth, it makes sense. What you may not know, though, is that gingivitis isn’t the only cause of swollen, red gum tissue. Malnutrition, dry mouth, pregnancy, and even dental appliances can all manifest as gum tissue that feels less than comfortable. So, let’s take a look at these triggers and understand why the end result is often a smile we’d rather ice down then show to the world.
Malnutrition: Our bodies need a slew of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, and when we don’t get enough of one of them, problems begin to crop up. If you’re not eating well, or have an age-related (or prescription medicine induced) absorptive disorder, you’re going to have difficulty getting all of the nutrients your body needs. When it comes to your mouth, you’ll tend to exhibit swollen gum tissue when you’re lacking in Vitamins B, C, A, D, K or Iron.
Dry mouth: Because an ongoing case of dry mouth robs gum tissue of the protective benefit of saliva, gingivitis is almost always the result. So, while Xerostomia (the medical name for dry mouth), isn’t in itself a cause of swollen gums, it remains a contributing factor. Recognizing an ongoing case of dry mouth can help you prevent the eventual buildup of tartar below the gumline that will contribute to gingivitis and, potentially, periodontitis.
Pregnancy: Hormones play a pivotal role in a woman's life, and during pregnancy they're out in full force. During pregnancy, this natural rise in hormones causes an increase in blood flow to gum tissue which can cause some women to experience swelling and tenderness in their gums. This increase in blood flow also tends to cause gum tissue to exaggerate the way it reacts to existing plaque in the mouth, and can trigger what is known as “pregnancy gingivitis.”
Dental Appliances: If you're a denture wearer, and your dentures have begun to fit less comfortably than in the past, you might want to consider having them relined. Relining is a simple and affordable procedure that reshapes the underside of a denture to make it more comfortable as it rests against your gums, preventing irritation to your gum tissue.
It’s no surprise that gum tissue is sensitive. Even the gentle poking of the hygienist when diagnosing the depth of perio pockets can be uncomfortable for some patients. That said, gum tissue shouldn’t hurt, it shouldn’t bleed, and it shouldn’t be swollen and inflamed. So, if you find yourself with overly sensitive, red, swollen gums, reach out to your dentist to explore the reasons for this sensitivity.