Gums That Suddenly Swell And/Or Change Appearance: Causes Identified

Dentist Blog

So, you are just going along in your day, eating and drinking as you normally would. A few hours later or the next day when you wake up, you discover that one small area of gum tissue is either swollen and painful, or red and inflamed. You try to think about what you did earlier. Did you eat popcorn and get a husk stuck in the gum tissue? Maybe a piece of meat is stuck in a gum pocket? A gingival infection did not respond well to your consumption of alcohol?

All of these are possible causes of gums that suddenly swell and/or change appearance. However, if none of the above apply, you have quite the mystery on your hands. Here are some other possible causes identified and how you can try to tick them off your list.

Foods High in Citric Acid

Generally, foods high in citric acid go hand in hand with high amounts of vitamin C, which are good for your gums. However, that is not always the case, since tomatoes, tomato sauces, and products made from tomatoes are high in citric acid but do not have as much vitamin C as oranges and other citrus fruits. If you have noticed changes in your gums after eating citrus fruits, or if have noticed this change following consumption of tomatoes and/or tomato products, you might be very sensitive to citric acid, resulting in the changes in the appearance of your gums.

The only way to test this is to remove all of the fruits that are high in citric acid from your diet for two weeks. Then reintroduce them to see which ones seem to cause the issue with your gums. This is NOT a food allergy, because you are technically not allergic to the foods. However, you are sensitive to the citric acid in them. You may have stave off such foods or only eat them once in a while if you do not like your gums swelling, changing color, etc..

You Are a Carrier for a Virus That Causes Mouth Sores

People with herpes often do not know that they have it until they have their first outbreak. You could be carrying oral herpes for years and never know it. Then, BANG!, out of the blue, your gums swell a bit and you have a few obnoxious sores on the inside of your mouth or at the corners of your lips. Thankfully, you can take an anti-herpetic medication to treat this problem. Just be aware that you will have this for life, and you can give it to your intimate partners, so be careful.


Abscesses sometimes take time to develop, in which case you would have noticed this sooner. Yet, there are some abscesses that develop very quickly because the amount of bacteria in a gum pocket has just reached critical and your body could not fight it off. Only a dentist can release the pus, perform a deep cleaning of the gum pocket and tissue, and then provide you with an oral rinse and/or antibiotics to finish the job.

Usually, good oral hygiene can prevent such things from happening. However, if you do not faithfully brush and floss every day, you could develop an abscess at the base of a tooth, causing that bizarre change in gum tissue appearance. The abscess can also result if you have an autoimmune disorder, such as HIV. It is important to come at this problem from all angles so that you know just what caused your own situation, and then you can either prevent the issue or treat it.

Contact a dentist, like Dr. Peggy Alvarez-Penabad, for additional information.


12 March 2018

Mouth Rinses Are Not Just for Bad Breath

I have always brushed and flossed my teeth daily, but I still had the occasional cavity when I visited the dentist for a check-up. He told me it was normal to have a cavity on occasion and that I shouldn't let it stress me out too much. Well, I am not one to just accept any problem I am having, so I started looking into how to improve my oral hygiene even more. I had always thought mouthwash was just to improve your breath, but I found some that said they helped keep cavities away. I started using one every day before bed. I haven't had a cavity in two years now, and I think the mouth rinse is the reason! I created this blog to remind other people that even if they brush and floss regularly, they can always find ways to take even better care of their teeth.