When we hear about oral health, we usually think about brushing our teeth to prevent cavities. But we rarely think about our gums. The truth is gums are an essential gauge of not just your dental health but your overall health. Sore gums are a result of inflammation or infection due to poor oral hygiene. The inflammation is caused by the presence of plaque in the mouth. Most of the time, bleeding and swollen gums are symptoms of gum disease. No matter the cause of painful and sore gums, you can take action to reduce gum discomfort and damage.
In America, more than 75% of adults over the age of 35 years get periodontal disease. Most people have the less serious form known as gingivitis. However, about 10% have a more severe type of gum disease called periodontitis.
Poor oral hygiene causes bacteria in the mouth to form plaque. These bacteria cause the gums to become inflamed, making the gums become swollen or red, or even bleed. For some people, the inflammation is painless. However, this does not mean that it should be left untreated. Gingivitis can be reversed if caught early, but if it is left untreated for a long duration, it can cause teeth loss. If not treated, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, which is characterized by weakened gums and bone beneath the gum.
There are other reasons why your gums can get swollen, such as cankers sores or mouth ulcers, chemotherapy, use of tobacco products, and hormones.
Canker sores can form anywhere in the mouth, and they usually have red edges and a whitish center. You can have one sore at a time or many sores simultaneously all over the mouth. Canker sores’ cause remains a mystery, but it could be viral or bacterial related. They usually reoccur after some time, but they are not infectious.
Women are usually the ones whose gums are affected by hormones, especially during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause. During these periods, their gums may become swollen, dry, red, and likely to bleed. The gums can also swell up due to birth control pills.
Smokers are more likely to get gum disease and gum problems such as painful sores and sensitive gums. On the other hand, chemotherapy can have ugly side effects such as bleeding, swollen and painful gums. Patients being treated for cancer usually deal with stomatitis, leading to the formation of painful ulcers and sores on the gums all over the mouth.
Medication such as antihypertensives, hormones, antipsychotics, and antiepileptics can also cause swollen gums. Anemia, scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), diabetes, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse such as methamphetamine, cancer, and Behcet’s syndrome have also been linked to sore gums.
The other symptoms that may appear alongside sore gums are bad breath, diarrhea or constipation, sore tongue, lightheadedness/tiredness/weakness, nausea, unexplained weight loss, pale skin or pallor, and swollen lymph nodes.
Sometimes, sore gums may happen with other symptoms that might signify a severe condition that should be treated as an emergency. These symptoms include severe gum bleeding, high fever (more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), and difficulty breathing or swallowing.
If you try the above ways of soothing sore gums, but there is still no relief, you should consider visiting an experienced dentist. Gum disease has been associated with heart disease, so it will be unwise to ignore it.
You should see a dentist if you exhibit the following symptoms:
Sore gums, if left untreated, can lead to more significant problems such as loss of teeth. Holman Family Dentistry has a friendly and reliable team that can help you treat swollen gums and any dental disease that causes it. The team will also advise you on the behavioral changes you should make to prevent your gums from getting the sores again. Give us a call at(479) 795-1101 and let us treat the painful sores and improve your oral health.
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