Written By Sharon Boyd, RDH | Reviewed by Lara T. Coseo, DDS
Gum infections are primarily caused by oral bacteria that form plaque and tartar, which destroy gum tissue. However, there are other factors that increase your risk for developing gum infections such as stress, tobacco use, hormonal changes, medications, poor nutrition, diabetes, pregnancy or genetics.
Gum Infections From Gum Disease Gums often appear infected when in fact they are experiencing symptoms of gingivitis or moderate to severe gum disease. Small amounts of plaque congregate along the gumlines, depositing the bacteria below the gums.
When not removed effectively, the body induces a swelling and bleeding response to the infected area. Severe forms of gum disease will also cause destruction of the supporting bone, causing tooth loss.
Gum Infections From Dental Decay When tooth decay is left untreated, it continues to spread throughout the tooth enamel and may also spread to adjacent teeth. Once the decay has reached the inner portion of the tooth, the nerve of the tooth becomes infected.
This infection will attempt to drain, and often causes a “pimple” or abscess near the root of the tooth, draining through the gum tissue. Most abscesses appear to come and go, but the condition is permanent until your dentist removes all of the decay and repairs the tooth.
Viral Or Bacterial Infection In some cases you can develop gum infections due to viral or bacterial conditions. This is due to bacteria building up in the mouth due to bad habits and improper oral hygiene. For example, not removing dentures or partial dentures can allow bacteria to buildup under the prosthesis and cause bacterial infections on the gum tissue. Viral infections such as ulcers can cause irritation, but typically go away on their own within about two weeks.
- Swollen or inflamed gums
- Bleeding or receding gums
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain during brushing or flossing
- Drainage of pus - clear or white - for one or several areas
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Gums that burn or are tender
- Raw gums
- Tissue that is red or purple
- Spaces between teeth
- Mouth sores
- Loose teeth or change in how teeth bite
- Decay in other teeth
- Loss of teeth and adjacent teeth
- Bone disease
- Complications with other systemic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc. (1)
- Gum disease/Periodontal disease
...and in rare cases, the risk of brain abscesses. (2)
- Heart attack or heart disease
- Elevated blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature birth and low birth weight infants
- Respiratory disease
The best way to prevent gum infections is to have exceptional oral hygiene practices, such as:
- Cleaning between your teeth - Be it with floss or a water flosser, cleaning between your teeth is almost, if not, more important than brushing your teeth. The majority of gum diseases and infections originate between the teeth, where brushing does not reach. Be sure to clean the area at least once each day.
- Brushing effectively - Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and angle the bristles toward your gums. Sweep the brush in small circular motions, focusing on one or two teeth at a time. Be patient and spend at least two minutes during a single brushing, focusing at the gumlines.
- Use pure, proven ingredients - The best way to prevent infections is to kill the major cause – bad bacteria. A recent University of Kentucky study has shown three 100% pure ingredients kill the bacteria that lead to gum infection and other problems.
- Supplements and Nutrition - Eating right, getting plenty of rest and exercise can help your gum tissue, like the rest of your body, be healthier. If you battle increased levels of plaque you may consider using an essential oil on your toothbrush to manage gum disease symptoms and help eliminate bacteria. (3)
- Prescription antibiotics to alleviate symptoms prior to treatment
- Prescription mouthwash
- Deep cleanings
- Routine cleanings
- Gum grafting surgery
- Root canal therapy with placement of a permanent crown
Home remedies for gum infections are very simple, straightforward and affordable. If you want to treat gum infection, always start with proper preventive care. Mild gum infections like gingivitis can be reversed within two weeks of proper home care.
- Brush effectively, at least twice each day, focusing on the gums
- Clean between your teeth with floss, water flossing or a toothpick
- Rinse with warm salt water to alleviate symptoms
- Use essential oils on your toothbrush or in water as a mouth rinse
- Jepsen S, Kebschull M, Deschner J.; Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. [Relationship Between Periodontitis And Systemic Diseases].[Article in German] 2011 Sep;54(9):1089-96.
- Clifton TC, Kalamchi S.,Ann R; A Case Of Odontogenic Brain Abscess Arising From Covert Dental Sepsis.; Coll Surg Engl. 2012 Jan;94(1):41-3.
- Bauroth, K., Charles, CH., Mankodi, SM., Simmons, K., Zhao, Q., Kumar, LD.; The Efficacy Of An Essential Oil Antiseptic Mouthrinse Vs. Dental Floss In Controlling Interproximal Gingivitis. A Comparative Study. J Amer Dent Assn. 2003 Mar. Vol. 134 no. 3 359-365.
Article Written By Sharon Boyd