The Truth about Swollen Gums
Not everybody knows the Why? and the How come? ..and as there are many truths about Swollen Gums, I would like to clarify.
First of all you need to know that not all swelling is actually swelling, so lets call it “augmented volume of the soft tissues, that surrounds your teeth”, which is usually described as “Swollen Gums”.
To understand their origin and recognize them, let’s have a look at the gum-cells and use some household examples.
Type #1 is Cauliflower swelling.
This is not actually swelling but excessive duplicating resulting in an increased number of cells. The gums are hypertrophic. There are more cells in a limited space and for that reason the big growing gums have a Cauliflower-like appearance and a kind of irregular, rough surface. The colour can be pale pink or similar to purple. It is not painful to pressure and can easily be brushed, but if its causes are not resolved it can end up completely overgrowing your teeth.
I see Cauliflower every now and then, which can be caused by:
A/ Sensitivity to certain pharmaceuticals, like high-pressure medication or anti-epileptic drugs.
B/ Hormonal changes. Pregnant woman in particular can have local cauliflower-like swelling.
C/ Mechanical irritation, such as overhanging fillings or fixed metal orthodontic appliances in children and adolescents.
D/ Heavy smokers
Treatment: There is no self-medication for cauliflower gums. Sometimes in rare cases the interruption of medication can solve the problem, but gingivectomy, which is excision of gums, usually needs to be performed.
I would always propose No-Pain Laser removal in my clinic and of course treatment/solution of the identified cause. Laser is a quick treatment and gives uneventful healing and post-op. If the work is done by scalpel blade you will have notable discomfort and heal slowly. (Dental Monthly June 2021 “Now let’s talk about No-Pain Laser dentistry”)
Type #2 is Ripe Tomato swelling.
In this case the single individual cells are swollen with edema, but the amount of cells remains the same. Like overripe tomatoes, the surface is smooth but with the lightest touch it cracks and easily loses its red fluids. These gums are usually painful and immediately start bleeding when touched with a toothbrush. Their colour is dark red.
This second type of swelling is the most common and I am sure that everyone has had or sooner or later will have an episode of it in their lives. It is always caused by dental plaque and tartar build up. Food particles that remain on the teeth near the gum outline cause inflammatory bacteria to grow which then inflame the gums, and their sole self-defence reaction is: SWELLING.
(Dental Monthly January 2021 “Inflamm-ageing!”)
Nobody is immune. Young and old people can have swollen gums caused by plaque. Let us be clear though: some people are more plaque sensitive than others for medical reasons (diabetes, obesity, hormonal changes, radiotherapy, heart disease), for genetical reasons and also for personal reasons (stress, smoke etc.)
Indicated treatment: Oral Hygiene cleaning every 6 months.
If you find the ripe-tomato-gums in your mouth it is easy to self-treat and prevent. Simply brush 2-3 times a day, preferably with an electric toothbrush carefully touching your gum outline and in between the teeth. This does the job. If it does not improve check with the dentist to have the tartar removed.
Remember that truly healthy gums, remaining with the greengrocer comparison, have a pale Pink Grapefruit-like skin and appearance.
By Dr. Elena Speranza Moll
Via Amilcare Ponchielli 21B, 50018 Scandicci –Firenze
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