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Why do our Gums Become Swollen or Bleed?


We all care about our dental health but there are signs and symptoms in your mouth that can be an indication of underlying health problems.

One of the main signs is swollen or bleeding gums.

We share what you can learn from this problem in your mouth - and what you should do with this knowledge

Are your gums swollen or bleeding?

This could be because of:

1. Incorrect brushing – don't be too harsh in your efforts to get those teeth clean and sparkling as although your teeth are quite tough, your gums are not. They are made of sensitive tissue so that improper brushing can damage them. Always choose a manual or electric toothbrush with soft bristles that have blunted ends to give a more gentle cleaning action both to the enamel on your teeth and to prevent red and swollen gums. You only need a small amount of toothpaste and look for a natural product rather than a commercial one (that may have harmful toxins and fluoride). Clean your teeth for at least two minutes at each session, using a gentle “round and round” motion on the front, back, and underneath of each teeth. Don't forget to brush the gums and tongue too.

2. Incorrect flossing – while we know that flossing every day is important to remove plaque from its hiding places in your mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach, being gentle is also important when flossing. Don't ever force the floss but, in a sliding up and down motion, carefully follow the curve of each tooth.

3. Plaque on the teeth – this happens when you don't look after your teeth and gums properly so that bacteria in the mouth goes on to form plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky material made of bacteria, mucus and food debris which develops on the exposed parts of the teeth and then goes on to become a hard substance known as tartar, which is easily trapped at the base of the tooth. This bacteria can be serious enough to cause the gums to become inflamed and lead to gingivitis.

4. Gingivitis – this is the less serious of the two types of gum disease, resulting in inflammation of the gums which will appear red, puffy and often bleed when brushing your teeth or if the dentist examines your mouth. Fortunately, this condition can be improved by regular dental cleaning together with brushing and flossing your teeth carefully after meals and for that full two minutes or longer. An electric toothbrush will also help - together with a natural, antiseptic mouth wash. Gum disease is so common that some seventy five percent of American adults over the age of thirty five suffer from this. Fortunately, the majority have gingivitis and not periodontal problems.

5. Periodontitis – this is the more serious gum disease and the word literally means “inflammation around the tooth”. In the worst cases of this condition, a bacterial infection can go so far as to destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that keeps teeth firm in the mouth so that a tooth (or more than one) could be lost. Such bacteria can come from not washing fruit and vegetables before consuming them or from drinking or eating from crockery or glasses that are not clean. So it is very important that treatment is commenced as quickly as possible to treat the bacterial infection. It may be necessary and advisable to consult a specialist known as a periodontist when suffering from periodontitis.

6. Dentures - it may be that you have poor fitting dentures as these can be another cause of swollen or bleeding gums. Adjustments will need to be made by your dentist and be aware that any fillings or braces that do not fit correctly can lead to food becoming trapped, causing bacteria to flourish.

7. Herpes - swollen gums can also result after contact with the herpes virus. But with this condition, there are additional symptoms of painful blisters developing on the gums and tongue. If you have such symptoms, you will need to see your doctor rather than your dentist.

8. Malnutrition – this is a further cause of swollen gums. It may be something as simple as being on a diet or not getting enough vitamin B and C or folic acid on a daily basis.

9. Being female - during certain times in their lives (such as puberty, menstruation or pregnancy) women may find that their gums become swollen, more sensitive and even redden. This is because of increased blood circulation to the gums through high hormone levels.

10. Swollen tonsils - sometimes swollen gums are associated with swollen tonsils so there may be an underlying medical problem that will need to be checked out.

Regular dental care is important to ensure healthy teeth and gums

Do let your dentist know if you have any swelling or bleeding in the gums.

In the meantime, make sure to

  • Brush your teeth gently at least twice a day (even better after every meal)
  • Floss every day and
  • Try to make time for a professional cleaning twice a year
  • If your swollen and bleeding gums are not caused by a dental problem, then you may need to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

Oil pulling is a great natural way to help look after your mouth too.

How does oil pulling work?

If you can imagine a car engine and how oil lubricates and cleans the engine for so many miles before being changed and fresh oil put in, then in the same way oil pulling works in our mouths.

The oil in the car engine picks up dirt and grime so that when you drain the oil, it pulls out the dirt and grime with it, leaving the engine relatively clean so that the engine runs smoother and lasts longer.

In a similar and simple process, oil pulling means that you rinse your mouth out with coconut oil and, if done correctly, this can have a very powerful cleansing and healing effect by detoxifying or cleansing the body.

It can help those with asthma, allergies, chronic fatigue, diabetes, migraine headaches, arthritis, PMS, chronic skin problems - as well as dental problems in the mouth.

The first thing that most people notice when they start oil pulling is an improvement in their oral health:

  • Teeth become whiter.
  • Breath becomes fresher.
  • The tongue and gums take on a healthy pink color.
  • Even problems such as bleeding gums, tooth decay and gum disease are greatly diminished or completely healed.

How to oil pull with coconut oil

1. First thing in the morning on an empty stomach and before drinking any liquids (including water), put one to two teaspoons of coconut oil in your mouth.

2. Push, pull and swish the oil between your teeth and all around your mouth for fifteen to twenty minutes.

3. Whatever you do, do not swallow!

4. Spit out the oil (not down the sink) and rinse mouth thoroughly before brushing your teeth.

5. When you first start oil pulling, carry it out three times a day if possible for a full detox. In time, you can change to a daily maintenance oil pulling session.



Gum disease. (n.d.).
ada.org/3063.aspx?currentTab=1. (Accessed 20 July, 2021).

Higdon J. (2018) Vitamin C.
lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/(Accessed 20 July, 2021).

Higdon J. (2014).
lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminK/(Accessed 20 July, 2021).