Itchy Gums – When They’re Serious, When They’re Not, and What to Do in Either Situation
Just as with itchy teeth, itchy gums can be a nuisance or a sign of something more serious.
In general, gums are sensitive tissue and thus, sensitive in nature. Without proper care and attention, gums can easily get inflamed, or worse.
Sometimes, however, gums can itch for more benign reasons that while not dangerous, can range from mildly to severely annoying.
Some possible causes of itchy gums can be:
- Gum disease or other dental conditions
- Food or drink sensitivities
- And more…
Of course, the first step in addressing itchy gums is figuring out why they are itching. You can do some “process of elimination” yourself, but our dental care team here at Cigno Dental stands ready and willing to help you make your itchy teeth feel better as well.
First, let’s discuss some of the causes of gum itchiness.
A few causes of gum itchiness might necessitate dental treatment here in the office. On the other hand, others can be addressed – at least in early stages – by directed treatments or extra attention at home.
Injury or Inflammation of the Gums
Any type of injury to the gum – a scratch, puncture, tear, or infection – can cause gum pain and/or an itchy sensation. Playing a sport or even certain foods can cause gum injury. Furthermore, as with itchy teeth, grinding or clenching the teeth can cause damage that results in itchiness too. Even tobacco, nicotine, vaping/e-cigs, and alcohol can also have negative impacts on the gums that over time, can result in inflammation or irritation that needs to be examined.
Plaque on the Gums & Gingivitis
Plaque caused by bacteria buildup that appears where the teeth meet the gums, can be irritating. Furthermore, superfluous mucus – such as with chronic sinus problems or a cold – can ramp up plaque production. If left unaddressed or untreated, excessive plaque can lead to gingivitis–the first stage of gum disease. In this phase, “itchiness” is a common side-effect.
Changing hormones can do many things in the body. Creating itchiness in gums is one of these things. In pregnancy, hormones can even create a (usually) temporary form of gum disease called “pregnancy gingivitis.” Like “real” gingivitis, the pregnancy version (due to hormones) can cause gums to itch. Similarly, hormone changes in puberty and menopause can create itchy gums.
Allergies and Dry Mouth
What happens when you are allergic to something? Your body produces increased amounts of histamine. Excessive histamine causes the body’s systems to react and one of these reactions in itching. Furthermore, this increased histamine can often cause dry mouth. Dry mouth can also be caused by illness or medications and is another big, but rather benign, itch-precipitating factor.
If your gums are itching, you might want to consider allergies you might have or medications you might be taking.
Some common allergies that cause gum itching are:
- Chemicals (such as perfumes, lotions, detergents, etc.)
- Outdoor irritants like trees, plants, shrubs, and pollen in general
Dentures or Braces
Any mouth appliances that touch or rub against gums can cause itching. Sometimes, they are just irritating. Other times, they might cause scrapes or scratches of the gum that itch when they heal.
To be certain that there is no underlying medical dental condition that needs to be addressed, coming to see us at Cigno Dental – or at your Milwaukee dentist – is important.
If plaque is an issue, then plaque scaling – removing tartar and plaque buildup below the gum line – can often provide relief. A more significant treatment is root planing, which gives the gums fresh tissue to adhere to and hopefully, reattach.
If it is found that the cause is not related to dental health, the following tips could be helpful in reducing or eliminating the itching your experiencing:
Antihistamines (to counter allergies)
Teeth Guards (to minimize grinding/clenching)
Drinking more water (to counter dry mouth)
Short-term Anti-Inflammatory Agents (such as ibuprofen to minimize swollen gums due to injury or illness)