Swollen Gums Are Your Mouth's "Check Engine" Light

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
October 23, 2019

Man looking at teeth in mirror

You already know that when the check engine light in your car comes on, something is amiss. But did you know that swollen gums are basically your mouth’s own “check engine” light? It’s true! Check out the information below to see what we mean.

Swollen Gums = Gingivitis?

Swollen gums, and gums that bleed or are irritated or red, might be the first sign that you have developed gingivitis. This condition is one of the most common causes of swelling in the gums.

Wait, what’s gingivitis, you ask? Well, it’s basically the first stage of gum disease, characterized by inflamed gums. That inflammation is caused by the accumulation of bacteria in plaque. The key is to recognize that this is a problem, and get treatment right away so that it doesn’t progress into severe gum disease, known as periodontitis.

What’s the big deal about gum disease? Well, if you don’t treat it, your teeth might fall out. Yikes!

Keep in mind that the symptoms associated with gingivitis might be mild at first. But if you notice that your gums are even just a little bit swollen, and brushing and flossing at home don’t seem to be helping, it’s time to see your dentist for a checkup and cleaning.

Pro tip: Concerned about affording a trip to the dentist? With Spirit Dental insurance, you get three cleanings per year, and there are a variety of affordable plans to choose from so you can see the dentist of your choice.

Other Potential Causes of Swollen Gums

Swollen gums are a check engine light for your mouth because they can also indicate that other problems are going on in your body.

  • A viral or fungal infection might cause swelling in your gums. For example, if you have thrush, your gums might swell. And if you have tooth decay that’s going untreated, it could cause an abscess and swelling.
  • Did you know that a deficiency in certain vitamins, such as vitamin C and B vitamins, might result in swollen gums? While malnutrition isn’t really common, it’s something to consider if your diet isn’t as nutritious as it should be. And this is definitely something to think about if you’re a senior, or if you’re taking care of a senior. Take some time to learn about foods that support oral health, and incorporate more of those into your diet to help ensure you get the right balance of vitamins and minerals that support teeth and gums.
  • Are you pregnant? Then the swelling in your mouth might just be the result of pregnancy hormones that cause more blood to flow to the gums. Unfortunately, changes in your hormones might also make you more susceptible to gum infections and gingivitis. So work with your dentist to help ensure your entire mouth remains healthy for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Another reason why your gums might be swollen: you’re brushing and flossing too aggressively. Consider switching to a gentler toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as a soft-bristled toothbrush. Also, try to use gentle movements to brush your chompers. And when you floss, aim to move the floss in between your teeth carefully so you don’t end up irritating your delicate gums.

Swollen Gums? Time to Make an Appointment with Your Dentist!

If your gums are swollen but it’s minor, the swelling might go away on its own with the help of a strict oral hygiene routine. However, if you’ve noticed that your gums are swollen for more than a couple of weeks, or if you have additional symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist to get things checked out.

Your dentist will take a look at your gums and work on figuring out the cause of the swelling. Rest assured that there are treatment options available, so you don’t have to live with swollen, irritated, red, or painful gums.

In addition to working with your dentist and following an oral hygiene routine at home, other steps you can take towards maintaining oral health include eating right, drinking plenty of water, and leading an active lifestyle that doesn’t include the use of tobacco products. With the right strategy, you can keep that “check engine” light from turning on.


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