6 Culprits of Gum Swelling and Pain: What You Need to Know

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While most people pay attention to their teeth, very few give their gums the same consideration. The problem with that is your gums are as important as your pearly whites when it comes to your dental health.

More often than not, swollen or bleeding gums are as a result of brushing or flossing incorrectly inadequate oral hygiene, or a poor diet. Sometimes, however, painful gums are symptomatic of something more serious, like periodontal or gum disease, a tooth abscess or even mouth cancer.

Bela Family Dentistry of Augusta takes a holistic approach as far as your oral health goes, and the family-focused practice offers a wide range of services such as preventative and restorative care, comprehensive treatments, and of course, cosmetic dentistry.

Our team of experts here at Bela Family Dentistry of Augusta has put together a list of six of the biggest culprits of gum swelling and pain. Carry on reading to identify, treat, and prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.


Canker sores or mouth ulcers can occur pretty much anywhere in your mouth, including on your gums. You can identify a mouth ulcer because of its white center and painful red borders. People can get one sore at a time or have a few on their gums, the inside of their cheeks or lips, on the tongue, and even on the soft palate on the roof of the mouth.

No one knows the exact causes of oral ulcers. However, studies show they may be genetic or as a result of an infection. Some patients may experience canker sores when they are under extreme stress or lack the necessary vitamins and minerals. In rare cases, recurring canker sores can be a sign of oral cancer.


Gum disease is another reason our gums become swollen and painful. As per a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost half of people over 30 years of age suffer from some type of gum disease. Fortunately, the most common type is known as gingivitis, which if treated early enough, is reversible. Because gingivitis doesn’t always mean painful or swollen gums, it can go untreated, which brings us to periodontitis, a far more severe gum disease.

When a patient has periodontitis, their mouth literally becomes a battlefield, with their body’s immune system trying to fight off the harmful bacteria. Inflammation and infection cause the bones and gums to weaken, which means teeth shift or loosen and eventually fall out.


Unfortunately, chemotherapy has a load of adverse side effects, and one of them is painful and swollen gums. This is as a result of stomatitis, an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. Canker sores or mouth ulcers are common for people undergoing radiation treatment.


By now, you probably know smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products isn’t only bad for your general health, but it also damages your teeth and gums.

Whether it is cigarettes, cigars or pipes, smokers are more susceptible to painful or sensitive gums and periodontitis. According to more recent research, even people who use e-cigarettes or vapes are at risk of developing severe gum issues.


Not too many people know this, but for some women, a change in hormones can cause swollen and painful gums. For example, during puberty, menstrual periods, and pregnancy, hormone levels change resulting in menstrual gingivitis as well as pregnancy gingivitis. Oral contraceptives can also lead to gum issues.


Often, an infection located in the root of a tooth can cause an abscess. This can cause swelling of the gums, as well as mild to extreme pain. The problem with an abscess is that the poison from the bacteria can spread to the rest of your body, which is why you need to see your dentist immediately.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom and swollen gums. The dedicated staff at Bela Family Dentistry of Augusta explains what you can do to prevent sore and swollen gums.

  • Brushing your teeth in the morning and before bed is essential, but how you clean them and what type of brush you use is as important. If you are unsure of the correct brushing technique, the dental hygienists here at Bela Family Dentistry of Augusta will be more than happy to show you.
  • Flossing is as important as brushing and is an excellent way of preventing gum problems. Again, if you are unsure of how to floss, the dental hygienists will be able to assist during your next appointment.
  • Use an effective antibacterial mouthwash that is recommended by your dentist. Often store-bought products only keep your breath fresh but do nothing to kill the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Eat the right kind of foods and make sure you are getting all the essential vitamins, such as vitamin C. Also, drink loads of water, which washes any leftover food off your teeth.
  • If you smoke, vape or chew tobacco products, it is a good idea to quit. While it may be difficult to kick the habit, your teeth and gums will thank you in the long run.

At Bela Family Dentistry of Augusta, Georgia, we believe prevention is better than cure. Taking care of your teeth will save you a lot of time, money and stress down the line. But if you, like so many other people have neglected your teeth and are experiencing painful or swollen gums, make an appointment today, so your teeth are with you tomorrow.

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