Gums - swollen
Swollen gums are abnormally enlarged, bulging, or protruding.
Swollen gums; Gingival swelling
Gum swelling is common. It may involve one or many of the triangular-shaped bits of gum between teeth. These sections are called papillae.
Occasionally, the gums swell enough to block the teeth completely.
- Infection by a virus or fungus
- Poorly fitting dentures or other dental appliances
- Sensitivity to toothpaste or mouthwash
- Side effect of a drug such as Dilantin, phenobarbital, or calcium channel blockers
Eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugary foods and drinks.
Avoid things that can irritate your gums such as mouthwashes, alcohol, and tobacco. Change your toothpaste brand and stop using mouthwashes if sensitivity to these dental products is causing your swollen gums.
Brush and floss your teeth regularly. See a periodontist or dentist at least every 6 months.
If your swollen gums are caused by a reaction to a drug, talk to your doctor about changing the type of medicine you use. Never stop taking a medicine without first talking to your doctor.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have any changes to your gums that last longer than 2 weeks.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, and gums. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:
- Do your gums bleed?
- How long has the problem been going on, and has it changed over time?
- How often do you brush your teeth and what kind of toothbrush do you use?
- Do you use any other oral care products?
- When was the last time you had a professional cleaning?
- Have there been any changes to your diet? Do you take vitamins?
- What medicines do you take?
- Have you changed your oral home care recently, such as type of toothpaste or mouthwash you use?
- Do you have any other symptoms such as breath odor, sore throat, or pain?
You may have blood tests such as such as a CBC or blood differential.
Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to care for your teeth and gums.
Amsterdam JT. Oral medicine. In Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 70.
Kawar N, Gajendrareddy PK, Hart T. Periodontal disease for the primary care physician. Dis Mon. 2011;57(4):174-183.
Chow AW. Infections of the oral cavity, neck, and head. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 60.
Reviewed By:Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, Palm Beach Prosthodontics Dental Associates, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.