What does it mean when Gums are Puffy?

When it comes to your oral healthcare, most of us focus on the condition of our teeth. So often our gums are overlooked or simply taken for granted. Your gums play a significant role not only in your dental health, but also in your overall well-being.

In the majority of situations, puffy, swollen or bleeding gums are an indication of periodontal disease, or gum disease. There can be other causes to your puffy or swollen gums as well, such as pregnancy, infection, or malnutrition. Whatever the cause of puffy, sore, or swollen gums, there are simple steps you can take to minimize gum damage and discomfort.

Understanding Gum Disease, the Primary Cause for Puffy Gums

More than half of American adults over the age of thirty get gum disease. While most people just experience the initial stages of gum disease, called gingivitis, up to 15% can have a much more serious level of gum disease known as periodontitis.

If you do not practice proper dental hygiene, bacteria in your mouth forms plaque on your teeth. These bacteria can cause your gums to become puffy, which results in red, swollen, or bleeding gums. If you have this gingivitis, the inflammation is not painful. If you can catch gingivitis early, it can be quickly reversed and corrected. If left untreated, the gingivitis will worsen. Be sure to contact your dentist if you have the following symptoms, even if you do not have any discomfort:

  • Puffy, red, or tender gums.
  • Gums that bleed during toothbrushing.
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Changes in your bite alignment.
  • Formation of deep pockets between your teeth and gums.
  • Loose or shifting teeth.
  • Receding gums.

When gingivitis progresses, it develops into periodontitis, a condition in which the gums and bone that hold the teeth in place can be severely weakened. You may have exceptionally puffy, painful gums that are likely to bleed. If left untreated, this periodontitis will lead to tooth loss.

How to Treat Puffy Gums

You can have your puffy gums treated easily with your dentist. After an examination they will do a quite common procedure in which they scale the surface of the teeth to remove the bacteria carrying plaque and tartar. They may need to add a deeper root planing as well to remove the source of the infection and allow the gums to heal. An antibiotic might also be prescribed.

How to Prevent Puffy Gums

You can avoid puffy gums by exercising proper daily oral hygiene.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice each day. Make sure you follow proper brushing technique.
  • Floss between your teeth at least once a day.
  • Rinse with mouthwash daily to kill bacteria.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid tobacco.
  • Be cautious about hot or cold foods and drinks.
  • Relax. Being stressed out raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increasing the likelihood of inflammation throughout your body, which includes your gums.
  • Schedule a regular professional tooth cleaning twice a year with your dentist to compliment your daily hygiene habits.

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