Painful and swollen gums usually are the result of a periodontal disease called gingivitis. While this is not always the case, it is fair to assume this is what you are dealing with. Gingivitis is common and preventable. The disease begins when plaque remains on the teeth for too long and develops into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. Once it is on the teeth, it acts as a reservoir for bacteria and will eventually irritate and infect the gums at the base of the teeth. This will cause swelling, pain and bleeding.
The first step in treating gingivitis is to have the teeth thoroughly cleaned by a dentist. The tartar that led to the condition cannot be removed at home, so a cleaning is necessary. This cleaning will probably be a bit uncomfortable, especially if the gums are already irritated. Using an antiseptic mouthwash will also be part of the treatment following the cleaning. This mouthwash will be effective in clearing out any remaining bacteria. Gums will usually heal in a short time, assuming you practice good oral hygiene by brushing thoroughly and flossing each day.
Importance of Proper Treatment
Gingivitis might not sound like an intimidating disease, but it can lead to serious complications if it is not treated properly. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause tooth loss and could potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Pregnant women with periodontitis are also far more likely to give birth to premature babies.
Other Causes of Painful Gums
If you do not believe that gingivitis is the reason for the painful swollen gums, it is possible a few other conditions could be causing it. According to the National Institutes of Health, swollen gums might be caused by viral or fungal infections, malnutrition, poorly fitting dentures, pregnancy, sensitivity to toothpaste or mouthwash, a reaction to a prescription drug such as Dilantin or Phenobarbital or scurvy. If your swollen gums are accompanied by fever or other "flu like" symptoms, see a doctor for treatment of a possible infection. If you are fitted with dentures or are pregnant, you might want to speak with your dentist/doctor and find out if you might have a complication that is affecting your oral health. Scurvy is rare in the U.S. and is typically found in older, malnourished people. Treatment for scurvy involves heavy dosing of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and can usually be treated effectively. If you think you are having a reaction to your toothpaste or mouthwash, try a different type to see if symptoms improve. If you are on a prescription drug that might be causing swelling and pain in your gums, consult your physician immediately, as you might need to discontinue use of that drug.
An effective home remedy for swollen gums is the use of a simple gargle made from water and lemon. Boil water and squeeze fresh lemon into it. Pour the hot water into a glass and allow to cool just enough to be able to put it in your mouth. Swish the water around like you would do with any mouthwash. Repeat the process at least twice a day. Gums will begin returning to their normal size and this rinse will also eliminate odour associated with the condition.