When You Should See a Dentist About Gum Swelling

When You Should See a Dentist About Gum Swelling

How to Recognize Gum Swelling

Gum swelling is a condition that can range from a minor irritation to an emergency. It’s important to know the basic cause of your gum swelling to determine whether you need to see a dentist. You can also book an emergency dentist consultation to check whether everything is all right.

We provide emergency dentist services to North Carolina patients every day of the week. Your gums are the pink tissue between your teeth and your jaw. This thick tissue has a lot of blood vessels. Swollen gums might feel thicker or bulge slightly in the mouth. Gum swelling might also become so serious that it hides part of the tooth.

When your gums become swollen, you’ll usually notice that they’re red in color instead of pink. It’s also common for you to experience sensitivity and irritation. Sometimes swollen gums are painful. If you floss or brush your teeth hard, you might notice bleeding in the gums.

When You Should See a Dentist About Gum SwellingCommon Causes of Gum Swelling

Some cases of swollen gums are not an emergency. But they are often a sign that you need to alter your oral care routine. You may need a new toothbrush or a different brushing and flossing routine.


Gingivitis occurs when the gums become inflamed and irritated. This is the first and most mild stage of gum disease. It’s common for people not to realize they have gingivitis since the symptoms can be mild. Not every case of gingivitis will cause pain or discomfort.

If you don’t treat gingivitis, though, it can progress into periodontitis. This is a much more severe form of gum disease that can cause tooth loss and changes to your bone.

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The most common cause of gingivitis is issues with oral hygiene. Plaque can build up on your teeth and gums, leading to bacteria and irritation. Plaque that remains on the teeth for too long hardens into tartar.

Tartar generally needs to be removed by a dentist. So if you have symptoms of gingivitis, you should make a dentist appointment. Even if it’s not an emergency appointment, you’re probably overdue for a cleaning.


Pregnancy is a common cause of swollen gums. During this time period, you might notice swelling and bloating in many parts of the body. Your hormones increase your blood flow throughout the body. When the blood flows to the gums, it can lead to easy irritation and bleeding.

In addition, pregnancy hormones can make it more difficult to fight oral bacteria. This leaves you more susceptible to infections and gingivitis.


Certain vitamin deficiencies can cause your gums to swell. That’s why swollen and bleeding gums are a key sign of scurvy. Vitamin C is vital for repairing your gums and teeth. A lack of Vitamin B can also cause swelling.

Scurvy is extremely rare in developed countries. However, it can still happen. Most often, modern day scurvy occurs as a result of extreme diets like the paleo diet. These eliminate important sources of Vitamin C, causing you to become deficient.

You become more susceptible to malnutrition as you get older. A multivitamin might help.


An infection in your gums can sometimes cause swelling. In some cases, like an abscessed tooth, this is a serious dental emergency. Recurrent gum infections can also be a side effect of certain conditions, like herpes.

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Another potential cause of the gum swelling is thrush. This condition occurs when the natural yeast in your mouth grows beyond its boundaries.

If you’re dealing with untreated tooth decay, that can lead to an abscess. An abscessed tooth will generally have much more local gum swelling. With gingivitis, the swelling tends to be found throughout the entire mouth.

When to See a Dentist

If you experience gum swelling for more than a few days, you should contact your dentist. You’ll be able to schedule a consultation to find out what is wrong. Your dentist might do imaging tests like X-rays to diagnose the issue. In addition, they’ll ask about your medical history.

You shouldn’t let the condition go on for long. When cases of gum disease are severe, sometimes they need to be treated with surgery.

You should also book an emergency dentist appointment immediately if any of these things happen:

  • You notice a bulging pocket in your gums.
  • There’s a “pop” in your gums, followed by a terrible taste in your mouth.
  • You develop a fever alongside the swelling.
  • The swelling occurs in only one part of the mouth with no explanation.

The biggest concern with gum swelling is that you might have an infection, like an abscessed tooth. In these cases, the pocket needs to be drained, and you need to take antibiotics. Sometimes you’ll need a root canal or to have a crown put on your tooth.

In addition, you should see a dentist if your gums are swollen for several weeks. That goes even if you don’t have symptoms of an infection. If at-home oral care doesn’t reduce the swelling, there may be a more serious condition that needs evaluation.

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If you’re concerned about gum swelling, book an appointment at our New Bern Avenue clinic today. At Carolina Dental Arts, we offer emergency dental services every day, even on the weekends. We are also a bilingual practice with Spanish-speaking staff members.

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