Children and Swollen Gums

When the gums are swollen, it is often related to dental health or the person's general health. Swollen gums are often the first warning sign of dental disease. However, the triggers can also be harmless. If the symptoms last longer, you should make an appointment with the dentist. Swelling gums can also be actively prevented. This is also the case with children, as well as adults.

Swollen gums can be recognized by redness, increased sensitivity and bleeding when brushing your teeth and eating. The most common causes of gum swelling include inflammation caused by bacteria, improper dental care, dental treatment and smoking. Meticulous oral hygiene is required to prevent swollen gums. In children, gum swelling can mean they are teething, in younger children, and it can also be the beginnings of gingivitis, which does appear in children.

Gums swollen: what are the symptoms?

You can tell by a variety of signs that your child’s gums are swollen. It shows some differences to a healthy oral mucosa. Swelling often occurs in combination with other symptoms. These include above all:

  • Redness (sometimes even dark red)
  • Bleeding when cleaning teeth and eating
  • Increased sensitivity (gum and toothache)
  • Visible sores in the mouth
  • Swelling is the first warning sign of periodontal diseases such as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or periodontitis. However, if there are more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or high fever, those affected should consult a dentist or a doctor. The medical professional will be able to make sure the issue is confined to the gums alone.

Causes of swollen gums

Gum swelling can have various causes. Sometimes even a combination of several triggers is responsible for swollen gums. The most common causes include:

  • Inflammation of the gums: If the gums become inflamed due to a bacterial infection (e.g. tooth decay), the mucous membrane usually swells. Inadequate oral hygiene is usually responsible for the fact that bacteria can multiply above the gum line.
  • Improper tooth brushing: If you press down too hard with the toothbrush, you may injure the sensitive gums, which swell as a result. Sufferers can remedy this by using a softer brush head. In addition, it is advisable to only clean the teeth with gentle, circular movements.
  • Dental treatment: Gum swelling can also occur after dental treatment. Especially after extensive treatment, such as the removal of a wisdom tooth, it is not uncommon for the gums to be swollen. However, the symptoms usually disappear within a few days.
  • Other causes: Other triggers of gum swelling include nocturnal teeth grinding, edema, fistulas on the gums, cysts and granulomas.

The consequences of gum swelling

If swelling of the gums persists over a longer period of time, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) often develops. In the worst case, this can develop into periodontitis, which is accompanied by receding gums and jawbone degradation, which can lead to tooth loss. For this reason, it is advisable to see a dentist at an early stage if you notice any problems with your child’s gums.

Treatment of swollen gums

If the gums are swollen, it usually doesn't take long for the affected area to become inflamed (if it hasn't already). For this reason, the first step in treatment is often for the doctor to remove tartar and plaque, if your child has teeth. Afterwards, it they might have your child use an antibacterial mouthwash. This can prevent bacteria and other germs from settling again in the affected areas. Anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin are available to relieve severe symptoms. Please talk to your pediatrician before giving either of these to your child. If an abscess is causing the gum swelling, the doctor will usually prescribe an antibiotic.

If the gums remain permanently swollen or inflamed despite exemplary oral hygiene, a doctor should clarify whether an underlying disease is the cause of the symptoms. It is possible that serious illnesses such as diabetes mellitus or a weakened immune system are responsible for the symptoms.

3 Year old with swollen gums & gingivitis