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Texas Periodontal Associates

Caring for Red and Swollen Gums

November 17, 2021
Posted By: Texas Periodontal

You want to feel confident when you smile, not worried about your gums being red. And there’s nothing quite as annoying as having sensitive gums. 

Healthy gums are pink, firm, and don’t hurt to touch. Having red, swollen, and tender gums is normal every once in a while, but if the symptoms persist, it may indicate a more serious issue. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your gums may hurt and how you can prevent and treat any issues.

Why Are My Gums Red and Swollen?

Most of the time, red and swollen gums indicate gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease. Gingivitis is the most common cause of gum issues for adults, and the CDC estimates that nearly half of Americans over 30 have some form of gum disease.



Gingivitis develops through plaque build-up and can progress into more severe forms of gum disease if left untreated. As the plaque builds and breeds bacteria, the gums can become puffy and may bleed when you brush, floss, or eat something firm.

However, there are some other potential causes of red, swollen, or bleeding gums, including:

  • Bleeding disorders

  • Hormonal changes in women, such as menopause, pregnancy, or menstrual cycles

  • Wearing dentures or other oral appliances that don’t fit correctly

  • Brushing too hard or flossing wrong

  • Chemotherapy treatment

  • Certain medications that thin the blood

  • Smoking or using other tobacco products

  • Vitamin deficiencies

Swollen Gums Around a Tooth; Causes and Remedies | The Smile Practice

How Can I Prevent Red and Swollen Gums?

The best thing you can do to keep your smile strong is to maintain good oral hygiene. 


You should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Get a toothbrush with soft bristles, then use short, gentle strokes to clean your teeth. You’ll want to make small circular motions and brush away from the gum line.


We also recommend adding flossing to your nightly routine to make sure you get everything out from the day’s meals. Since food can easily get trapped between your teeth, flossing helps to dislodge debris before bacteria builds up around it.


The best way to floss is by curving the strand around your tooth in a “C” shape, then moving it up, down, and under the gum line. You should use a new section of floss for each tooth, so you aren’t just moving the plaque to a new location. If you have a permanent device (like a retainer bonded to your teeth or metal braces), be sure to check with your dentist about the best way to floss around the device.


You're Doing It Wrong! How to Floss the Right Way


Additionally, some lifestyle changes can reduce the chances of developing red, swollen gums, including:

  • Staying away from tobacco 

  • Minimizing your alcohol consumption

  • Making sure you’re getting enough nutrients in your diet by eating more fruits and veggies

  • Avoiding sugary drinks and foods

  • Limiting foods that easily get caught between your teeth like popcorn

How Can I Treat Red and Swollen Gums? 

If your gums are puffy or tender, there are a few things you can do to relieve the pain.

  • Use a saltwater rinse to reduce gum inflammation. You can mix a teaspoon of salt with warm water, then swish the mixture in your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out. You can do this two to three times a day.

  • Use warm and cold compresses to relieve pain and swelling. You can put a warm washcloth against your face (not directly on your gums) for five minutes. Then you’ll swap out the warm cloth for an ice pack or bag of ice. You can repeat this cycle two to three times twice a day.

  • Use natural ointments like turmeric gel, aloe vera, or essential oils (peppermint, tea tree, thyme). The gel can be applied directly to your gums, and mix aloe vera or an essential oil with water to make a rinse.

  • Use food-grade hydrogen peroxide mixed with water to create a rinse.

    If the redness, swelling, and tenderness in your gums persist, reach out to your periodontal dentist to ensure everything is in good shape. If you’re in the Houston area, you can schedule an appointment with us by calling (713) 457-6351 or filling out our online form.

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