The smallest physical ailments have the power to dampen your mood and alter your day. Swollen gums, like the proverbial sore thumb, are one such problem. Left unchecked, they also have the potential to be more than a small issue, causing decay, pain and even tooth loss and the expenses that go along with major dental care. But you don't want to rely on some remedy offered over the counter with who-knows-what ingredients. Thankfully, there's a host of ways to combat the troublesome issue at home with completely natural solutions.
Perhaps the single best long-term answer is prevention. In the vast majority of cases, swollen gums are caused by bacteria in your mouth. A thorough hygiene plan for your teeth and gums can help you avoid dealing with irritated and unsightly gums to begin with. But even the best-laid plans can fall short. Ironically, the chemicals and alcohol found in popular toothpastes and mouthwashes have the potential to bother your otherwise clean, pink gum line [source: The Mouth Doctor]. Other causes include a lack of vitamin C, side effects from medications like birth control pills or poorly fitting dentures [source: Natural Home-Remedies.org].
In the short-term, while you're dealing with the discomfort and unsightliness of swollen gums, you can turn to nature for relief. Some natural remedies may include nothing more than a single ingredient like salt, while others may seem like you're preparing a fancy dinner dish. The availability of the ingredients in your home or local stores -- and the intensity of your discomfort -- will dictate what options you're willing to try. Start with what you've got handy and proceed from there.
Naturally, if your symptoms (pain, discoloration of the gum line and, particularly, the teeth) are worsening, see your dentist. While swelling of the gums is quite common, it can lead to tooth extractions and even tissue and bone grafting if it's not addressed. In that case, you'll be dealing with more than a minimal irritant -- most likely a physical and financial pain of considerable proportions [source: The Mouth Doctor]. If the pain is particularly severe and is accompanied by a fever, see your doctor immediately [source: Better Medicine].
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Turning the Frown Upside Down
The quickest and simplest tonic for what ails you is salt. But that doesn't mean you can just order some french fries from the local greasy-spoon restaurant and call it a day. You'll want to floss your teeth, brush with a soft bristle toothbrush and then gently rub your gums with salt. If you do this three times a week, even once your gums are perfectly healthy, you'll keep the problem from recurring [source: Simple-Remedies.com]. Avoid rubbing too hard. If you create a sore from scouring your gums intensely, you may create the problem you were trying to avoid.
Another one-ingredient remedy is clove oil. Remember that your gums are swelling as a result of bacteria. Clove oil fights bacteria and soothes pain. Using a cotton swab, apply the oil to the affected areas. You may also want to rinse your mouth with a solution of water and a few drops of clove oil. Repeat twice daily [source: Simple-Remedies.com].
- Salt and ginger -- Create a cream and apply twice a day
- Castor oil and camphor -- Mix into a paste and gently massage on gums in the morning and night
- Essence of rose flower and lemon -- Swish around in mouth several times a day
- Lemon and warm water -- Gargle and rinse while symptoms persist
For more time-intensive solutions, consider lighting a sheesham tree branch. The foam that comes out of the end of the twig can be used on the gums to prevent swelling and even stop bleeding. Alternately, ajwain can be roasted, ground and applied to your tender gums for relief [source: Natural-HomeRemedies.org ].
Once your gums have returned to their normal size and color, remember to keep them healthy with a daily cleaning routine. Floss before brushing, use a soft-bristled brush with an organic toothpaste and make sure to brush at least twice a day. Drink plenty of water and avoid mouthwashes that include alcohol and other chemicals which can irritate your gums [source: The Mouth Doctor].
It's hard to smile when you're dealing with pain and discomfort. You also don't really want to smile if you're revealing irritated gums in the process. But if you use these home remedies, you won't just have to grin through closed lips and bear it.
Keep reading: We've got lots more information on the next page.
- Better Medicine. "Swollen Gums." (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.bettermedicine.com/article/swollen-gums
- The Mouth Doctor. "Swollen Gums." (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.oramd.com/swollengums.htm
- Natural Home-Remedies.org. "Home Remedies for Swelling of Gums." (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.natural-homeremedies.org/homeremedies_swelling-gums.htm
- SimpleRemedies.com. "Home Remedies for Swollen and Painful Gums." March 5, 2011 (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.simple-remedies.com/oral-health/swollen-gums-pain-causes-remedies.html