Red Gums

Table of Contents
What are the causes of red gum?
How to prevent and treat red gums?
Related Articles

by John Baker



The standard gum color is usually described as a coral pink. If your gums are noticeably red it could be a sign of something wrong and there could be several different contributing factors. The most common contributor to red gums is the early stages of gum disease. Reddened gums may not always bleed, but still require treatment from a dentist.

Swollen gums, which are also referred to as gingival swelling or gingivitis, are a common but preventable dental condition, and can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Some people might notice, while flossing or brushing their teeth, that their gums are red and swollen. Others might not realize it until a dental hygienist or dentist informs them of the condition.

Gums play a major role not only in dental health, but in your overall well-being as well. In many circumstances, inflamed and bleeding gums are a symptoms of gum disease. However,  there are a number of other factors that could be causing your gum issues. Whatever the cause of sore, painful gums, there are steps you can take to minimize gum damage and discomfort.


What are the causes of red gum?

There are several reasons your gums could be red or swollen:

  • Oral Hygiene
    • Proper dental and oral hygiene can help prevent the swelling and redness of the gums. Poor brushing techniques or not brushing the teeth regularly can allow plaque to build up, causing redness and swelling of the gums. Plaque that sits on the teeth for several days turns into tartar, which can irritate the gums around the bottom of the tooth and must be removed by a dentist or periodontist.
  • Gum Irritation
    • Gum irritation can be a prime contributor to redness of the gums. The use of intense mouthwashes or other hygiene products can irritate the gums and cause them to become red and swollen. Excessive tobacco use, drinking alcohol or eating abrasive foods such as popcorn can also be cause red gums.
  • Canker Sores

    • Common catalysts of painful gums are canker sores, also referred to as mouth ulcers. These painful sores can develop anywhere inside the mouth, including on the gums, and often contain a whitish center with red surrounding edges.
  • Dental Work
    • Frequent dental work and the use of certain types of dental instruments can be a cause of red swollen gums. Fillings and crowns that have become loose or cracked, poorly fitted dentures and procedures such as root scaling might also cause redness and swelling of the gums.
  • Infection
    • Viral or fungal infections, such as thrush, can contribute to redness and swelling of the gums, palate or tongue. An abscess in a tooth can also lead to red swollen gums and infection if the abscess bursts or is left untreated.
  • Medical Conditions
    • Several medical conditions can result in red gums. Malnutrition and vitamin deficiency is another medical condition that can cause the gums to swell and become red.
  • Gum Disease
    • More than three-quarters of American adults over the age of 35 suffer from periodontal (gum) disease. While a majority of people with gum disease experience the less severe gingivitis, between 5% and 15% of the population have a much more serious type of gum disease known as periodontitis. When people do not practice proper dental hygiene, bacteria in the mouth form plaque on the teeth. This bacteria can cause red, swollen, or bleeding gums. For many people the inflammation associated with gingivitis is not painful. If you catch gingivitis early, it can be reversed and healed quite easily, through proper oral hygiene. But if left untreated, gingivitis can worsen and eventually lead to tooth loss. Any of the symptoms below can indicate periodontal disease:
  • Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
  • Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Receding gums
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together on biting, or in the fit of partial dentures
  • Persistent bad breath 

  • Hormones
    • Sudden changes in hormone levels while a woman is menstruating, going through puberty or pregnant have been known to cause red and swollen gums. The increase in hormones during these events heighten blood flow to the gums, making them red, inflamed, and sensitive.
  • Tobacco Products
    • Using cigarettes and other tobacco products can cause significant damage to your gums. People who smoke are far more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemotherapy can have many unpleasant side effects, including painful and bleeding gums. Many people undergoing treatment for cancer suffer from stomatitis, brought on by the development of painful sores and ulcers on the gums and throughout the mouth.

Major Contributors to Inflammed Gums

First Signs of Gum Disease

How to prevent and treat red gums?

  • Brushing Techniques - Gums are made of delicate tissue and brushing too hard can cause serious damage to your gums. When choosing a toothbrush it should be with soft nylon bristles that have blunted ends. Medium or hard bristles can damage the enamel on your teeth or cause red and swollen gums. When you brush, make sure you use gentle, circular motions to massage and clean the teeth and gums. The popular back and forth motion of brushing your teeth can actually irritate and damage your gums, making them sore and more likely to bleed or recede.
  • Flossing Techniques - We all know the importance of flossing every day can help remove plaque from places where your toothbrush cannot reach. To make sure that flossing is not the cause of your red gums, be gentle when you floss. Rather than forcing the floss between your teeth, carefully slide it up and down, following the curve of each tooth.

Tips to prevent sore and swollen gums

  1. Brush your teeth- Brush your teeth at least twice a dae and make sure you follow proper brushing techniques and practices.
  2. Floss daily - Flossing may be the most important thing you can do to prevent gum problems now and in the future. Similar to brushing, flossing must be done the right way.
  3. Eat a healthy diet - A healthy diet filled with the vitamins and nutrients your body needs can play a major role in achieving pink healthy gums.
  4. Drink water - Drinking water can help wash food off your teeth and make it less likely that bacteria will form gum-damaging plaque.
  5. Avoid tobacco - Tobacco products and cigarettes can have deep impacts on your gums
  6. Temperature sensitivity - Gums can be sensitive to food and beverages with extreme temperatures.
  7. Avoid Stress - Being stressed raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increasing the likelihood of inflammation throughout your body, including in your gums.

Tricks to keep your gums and teeth clean

  • Avoid foods and drinks which stain your teeth - Certain foods can stain your teeth and gums. It is best to brush immediately after eating any of these foods.
  • Brush for the appropriate amount of time - The ideal duration of brushing needed to remove all the bacteria  plaque out is at least two minutes.
  • Grip your toothbrush like a pencil - The best way is to place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle against your gums and gently move it in a circular motion, rather than a back-and-forth motion. Grip the toothbrush like a pencil so you will not scrub too hard.
  • Drink a cup of tea every day - Flavonoids and other ingredients in tea help prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth, and also block production of a type of sugar that contributes to cavities. Tea also contains high amounts of fluoride.
  • Change your toothbrush  -  You should change your brush at least every two to three months. Otherwise, you’re just transferring bacteria to your mouth.
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse away bacteria
  • Clean your tongue  - Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath. A major cause of bad breath is the build-up of bacteria on the tongue, which a daily tongue scraping will help to remove
  • Cut back on sugar - Sugar and bacteria causes the development of oral plaque. Plaque then leads to bleeding gums, tooth decay and cavities.
  • Hydrate Frequently  - The more water you drink, the more bacteria you flush off your teeth and out of your mouth, meaning less risk of gum disease, fewer 
  • Prevent tooth fractures or chips - Chewing or hard foods creates tiny fractures in the enamel of your teeth that, over the years, combine to result in major cracks.

Early Prevention of Red Swollen Gums

Guide to Keeping Healthy Gums


Related Articles:

The signs and symptoms of gum disease:

1. Red Gums

As previously mentioned red gums is one of the earlier symptoms of gum disease. Your gums should usually be a standard color of pink. If you see that your gums are red in color you should be suspicious that gum disease is present and consult your dentists. 

2. Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums during brushing and flossing are most likely due to gum disease. 

3. Bad Breath or Halitosis

Halitosis is very common and can be a determining factor of gum disease. Bad breath can be caused by certain foods, lack of proper oral hygiene, the build-up of bacteria on the tongue or even from stomach problems

4. Increased Spaces Between Teeth

If you notice that you have a space between two teeth that was not there before, it is usually a sign that gum disease has weakened the teeth.

5. Gum Recession

In advanced stages of gum disease the gums begin to pull away or recede from the teeth. The recession can lead to increased tooth sensitivity and eventual tooth loss. 


Red Gums and Gum Disease Among Children

Gum disease is a problem for adults and children alike. If your toddler’s gums bleed readily while brushing their teeth, gingivitis is one of the more common causes. Gingivitis can also cause an inflammation of the gum line. The gums may also have shiny appearance. If gingivitis is causing the redness, the symptoms can include inflamed gums with small gray sores that are red surrounding their edges. Sores can be present on both the soft and hard palates of your toddler’s mouth which can cause pain while eating.


Childhood Gum Disease Treatments

Since your toddler’s gums are in pain, the removal of plaque around the gum line can further irritate the gums, but this tenderness improves within a week or two. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride works to strengthen tooth enamel and protect them from tooth decay. Ibuprofen can reduce pain from their gums during meals.


How to Prevent Childhood Gum Disease?

Once your toddler’s gums are back to full health, it is still very important that they brush twice a day and practice a regular oral hygiene regiment.  Schedule visits to the dentist twice per year for preventative measures against gum disease and other dental disorders. If you know a person who has cold sores, canker sores, frequent bad breath, receding teeth or red gums, they are at risk of being contagious and you should tell your toddler to avoid sharing utensils with them.


Why Does Your Child  Have Red Gums?

The most probable cause of gingivitis is improper oral hygiene. Plaque and tartar cause inflammation of the gums and can deteriorate teeth. Gingivitis can also be hereditary and can be passed from person to person through saliva. Toddlers who grind their teeth either at night or during the day are susceptible to gingivitis as well.





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