Gum discomfort can occur for numerous reasons, including nutritional deficiencies, certain prescription medications, and periodontal disease. If you notice a change in gum appearance or sensation, schedule an appointment with your dentist. But if you're dealing with swollen and tender gums, you can also take the steps listed below to decrease your discomfort before you get to the dentist's office.
Numb Your Gums
Swollen gums can feel painful and sensitive. To decrease the pain, use gentle and safe household items to numb the area somewhat. Numbing agents you can use for this purpose include:
- Cold compress—Wrap a bag of frozen food in a thin towel and hold the compress against the part of your face that correlates to the problem area. Keep the compress against your skin until your gums feel slightly numb, then remove it. Do not leave the compress in place for more than 10 minutes at a time.
- Frozen foods—If your teeth have not become sensitive along with your gums, eating frozen grapes, Popsicles, or other cold foods may help. Choose sugar-free or low-sugar options to limit the risk of tooth decay.
Avoid using any substance directly on your gums since this misstep could cause further irritation.
Reduce the Inflammation
When your gums swell, they compress the nerves in your jaw. To bring the swelling down, you must reduce the tissue inflammation. Start by using the cold compress routine described in the previous section. If cold therapy has little affect on your gum pain, take an over-the-counter painkiller that reduces inflammation, such as acetaminophen.
Swish with Salt Water
Salt can inhibit bacteria growth, reducing the intensity of oral swelling as well as the risk of infection. To take advantage of this property, fill a glass with lukewarm water. Add approximately one teaspoon of salt to the water and stir until the salt dissolves. Use the salt water the same way you would a mouthwash, swishing the water throughout your mouth. You can rinse your mouth with this solution up to two times a day. Avoid swallowing any of the water during this treatment.
When it comes to conditions affecting the soft tissues of the mouth, it's always preferable to address the cause of the problem directly. While the measures listed above can alleviate gum pain, these steps only address your symptoms. See your dentist as soon as possible to receive treatment for the root cause of your gum swelling.