When Are Swollen Gums a Medical Problem?

When Are Swollen Gums a Medical Problem?

Swollen gums are quite common, and they’re often associated with gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. But periodontal disease isn’t always the cause of swollen gums, which leaves plenty of people wondering when they need to seek treatment.

At Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC, many of our patients have swollen gums arising from a variety of causes. During your initial evaluation at our New York City practice, our team performs a comprehensive evaluation to determine the cause, so they can provide treatment tailored specifically for your needs.

Gum swelling 101

Most gum tissue swelling is caused by inflammation inside your gums or around your tooth. In many cases, that inflammation is associated with an underlying infection, like a deep cavity, a tooth abscess, or gum disease.

During an infection, germs multiply rapidly inside the gum tissue, and your body fights the infection by sending out white blood cells and other germ-fighting agents. Inflammation is one of the “by-products” of infection, helping eradicate some types of germs while also causing uncomfortable symptoms, like swelling.

Some types of swelling happen when pus builds up inside the tooth or in a pocket that forms in the tissue surrounding your tooth. This type of infection is called an abscess, and without immediate dental treatment, the infection can quickly spread to your jaw or your bloodstream.

Perhaps less commonly, gum swelling happens when food or foreign matter, like a splinter from a toothpick, are trapped below the gum. Germs can also enter your gums or teeth from a loose cavity or from tiny cracks or fractures that can be so small, you might not even be able to detect them on your own. Smoking and some medications can cause or contribute to gum swelling, too.

Treating swollen gums

Swollen gums are never normal, but fortunately, there are treatments that can help. The treatment we recommend for you will depend on the results of our examination, dental X-rays, and a review of your medical history. 

If the swelling is due to a badly decayed tooth, we may recommend a root canal to eradicate the infection and preserve the tooth. Root canals help avoid extractions, and they also prevent the infection from spreading.

Swollen gums caused by gum disease may require special deep cleaning or gum grafting to treat significant tooth recession. Tooth abscesses often require drainage and antibiotics, sometimes alongside a root canal or an apicoectomy, a special procedure that treats infection at the base of a tooth root.

Preventing swollen gums

Our team is skilled in advanced treatments aimed at treating the cause of swollen gums, but ideally, it’s best to try to prevent swelling in the first place. The most effective way to do that is to practice good oral hygiene. That means:

It’s also important to call the office at the first sign of swelling to prevent complications, like further tooth damage, tooth loss, or a serious infection.

Take gum problems seriously

Bottom line: Swollen gums that last more than a day or that recur should always be evaluated by our team. Ignoring swelling can allow an underlying problem to get a lot worse, a process that can happen very quickly. 

If you have swollen gums, we have a solution that can help relieve your symptoms and preserve your oral health. To learn more, call 929-229-0255 or book an appointment online at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC today.

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