The body often experiences various aches and pains. Some are minor, such as a light cough or sore muscle, while other ailments are more serious, such as broken bones or migraine headaches. Though swollen cheeks and gums can cause light, moderate or severe pain, dealing with the issue can be a pain in and of itself. Consult your doctor if pain is unbearable or if symptoms are ongoing.
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One of the most common causes of swollen gums and cheeks is gingivitis, also referred to as gum or periodontal disease. It's defined as inflammation of the gums and causes gum and cheek swelling, bleeding, discomfort and sensitivity, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other minor causes include a minor allergic reaction to food or dental products, canker sores, herpes cold sores, poor nutrition, or poorly fit dentures, braces or mouth guards, according to Drexel University College of Medicine.
In addition to the various common causes, there are a few rare, but more serious, causes of swollen gums and cheeks. One rare cause is oral cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, symptoms of oral cancer include thickening of the cheek, difficulty chewing, swallowing and moving the jaw, long-lasting sores or lesions and numbness.
Another rare cause of swollen gums and cheeks is parulis, or a gumboil. Gumboils can occur anywhere in the mouth, but typically occur around the gums, lips and cheeks. They're small- to medium-sized bumps that look like cysts or pimples and are caused by a tooth with a dead nerve, according to NetWellness, a service of the University of Cincinnati, the Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University.
If you suspect any of these rare but serious causes, consult your doctor immediately.
Depending on the cause of your swollen gums and cheeks, medical treatment varies. For gingivitis or other mild causes, a soft bristle brush and mouthwash can help treat the problem. For more serious causes, professional treatment is necessary and may include prescribed medication and minor or major oral surgery. Always consult your dentist about the best treatment options for your particular case.
Though some of the more serious causes of swollen gums and cheeks are hereditary or otherwise out of your control, it's possible to prevent more common causes. The best way to prevent these causes of swollen gums and cheeks is to practice proper hygiene. That includes brushing three times a day, followed by gentle flossing. Also use mouthwash, get proper nutrition and make regular visits to your dentist.
Self-diagnosing is not always easy to do. If you suspect -- even slightly -- that there's something very wrong with your mouth, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. Also consult your doctor or dentist if the swelling is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms.