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Inflamed Gums

Tender and inflamed gums can be the result of minor trauma as well as severe gum diseases. Given below is an overview of the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and a few home remedies to deal with the swelling and pain.
A variety of reasons, as trivial as poor oral hygiene and minor allergies, to grave diseases like cancer may lead to an inflammation of gingiva or gums. Medically referred to as gingivitis, this condition is often the early stage of periodontal diseases. Redness, pain and tenderness are the symptoms associated with gingivitis.

Given below is a detailed account of this condition with respect to the possible causes, common symptoms, treatment, as well as some home remedies.

► Dental plaque
Plaque buildup occurs along the gum line, and causes irritation to the gums followed by inflammation and soreness. It refers to a collection of bacterial cells that attach themselves, in the form of biofilms, onto the surface of a tooth. Such plaque further undergoes mineralization to form tartar, which poses a risk of infections.

► Allergy
An allergy to various foods, especially nuts, seashells, soy, etc. may cause itchy, sore and inflamed gums. Such a condition can also be an adverse reaction of certain medications including nifedipine (prescribed for hypertension), cyclosporin (immunosuppressant drug), phenytoin (antiepileptic drug), etc.

► Infection
Bacterial, fungal and viral infections can trigger an inflammatory reaction in the gums leading to swelling, tenderness, painful lesions, pus formation and halitosis. Exogenous bacteria such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema pallidum and Streptococcus spp., fungi like Candida albicans and Histoplasma capsulatum, and viruses including herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), varicella zoster virus (VZV) are a few of the infectious agents that may affect gums.

► Diabetes
In people suffering from diabetes, the blood supply to gums, as well as the collagen content of gums reduces. This leads to inflammation and tissue damage. Poorly controlled diabetes thus leads to weakened gums which increases the risk of bacterial infections.

► Cancer
Inflamed gums may be a symptom of leukemias and various oral cancers, if the accompanying symptoms include development of lumps, formation of abnormal speckles in the mouth, bleeding gums, fatigue and night sweats.

► Hormonal changes
In women, puberty and pregnancy involve an array of endocrine changes that may sometimes manifest as temporary gum inflammation and thickening of the gingival margin.

► Other causes
  • Gum injury
  • Ulcers
  • Stress
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Smoking
  • Color change from coral pink to red
  • Increased tenderness
  • Bleeding on probing
  • Halitosis
Symptomatic treatment options include the use of analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). However, the complete reversal of this condition depends on the precise etiology.
  • Good oral hygiene, use of anti-plaque toothpastes and mouth rinses, coupled with professional dental cleaning at regular intervals is the ideal way to control plaque buildup.
  • In case of injuries and hormonal changes, the condition subsides without the requirement of any medication.
  • Diabetics and cancer patients need specific treatments, depending on the particular condition, in order to reduce the progression of the underlying disorder thereby reducing gum inflammation.
  • To deal with gum infections, antibiotics may be prescribed as oral medicines, topical creams or mouthwashes.
Home Remedies
  • Apply a cold compress or an ice pack over the affected gums to reduce the pain and swelling.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water several times a day to control plaque buildup.
  • Apply Aloe vera gel to alleviate the pain, and get a soothing effect.
  • Dip a cotton swab in tea tree oil or clove oil, and lightly rub it on the inflamed area.
  • Prepare a paste by mixing 1 tsp. baking soda and a pinch of salt in water, and apply it on the gums to remove plaque.
Dental plaques, infections and endocrine changes lead to the inflammation of gums, which if ignored can progress to periodontal diseases. It is advisable to maintain a good oral hygiene, and take the necessary preventive and remedial measures in time to keep serious gum problems at bay.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.