Swollen gums are abnormally enlarged, bulging, or protruding.
Gum swelling is common. It may involve one or many of the triangle-shaped areas of gum between teeth. These sections are called papillae.
Occasionally, the gums swell enough to block the teeth completely.
Swollen gums may be caused by:
- Inflamed gums (gingivitis)
- Infection by a virus or fungus
- Poorly fitting dentures or other dental appliances
- Sensitivity to toothpaste or mouthwash
- Side effect of a medicine
- Food debris
Eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugary foods and drinks.
Avoid foods such as popcorn and chips that can lodge under the gums and cause swelling.
Avoid things that can irritate your gums such as mouthwashes, alcohol, and tobacco. Change your toothpaste brand and stop using mouthwashes if sensitivity to these dental products is causing your swollen gums.
Brush and floss your teeth regularly. See a periodontist or dentist at least every 6 months.
If your swollen gums are caused by a reaction to a drug, talk to your health care provider about changing the type of medicine you use. Never stop taking a medicine without first talking to your provider.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if changes to your gums last longer than 2 weeks.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, and gums. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:
- Do your gums bleed?
- How long has the problem been going on, and has it changed over time?
- How often do you brush your teeth and what kind of toothbrush do you use?
- Do you use any other oral care products?
- When was the last time you had a professional cleaning?
- Have there been any changes to your diet? Do you take vitamins?
- What medicines do you take?
- Have you changed your oral home care recently, such as type of toothpaste or mouthwash you use?
- Do you have any other symptoms such as breath odor, sore throat, or pain?
You may have blood tests such as a CBC (complete blood count) or blood differential.
Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to care for your teeth and gums.
Swollen gums; Gingival swelling; Bulbous gums; Inflamed gums; Enlarged gums
Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Ears, nose, and throat. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Seidel's Guide to Physical Examination. 10th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2023:chap 13.
Chow AW. Infections of the oral cavity, neck, and head. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 64.
Pedigo RA. Oral medicine. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 56.
Review Date 1/24/2022
Updated by: Michael Kapner, DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, Norwalk, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.