Irritation in your gums and teeth can be one of the most inconvenient and uncomfortable things. Sometimes this irritation can be caused by a lack of dental hygiene – in fact, almost all irritation stems from this. Other times you might have an infection, or just be genetically predisposed to having trouble with your teeth. Whatever the case, there are some easy home remedies to deal with tooth pain, so here’s our list: how to treat swollen gums.

 how to treat swollen gums

What Are the Causes?

The most common cause of swollen gums is gingivitis. I always thought that this was a really dramatic disease (the dentist or hygienist always warned me about it), but in a lot of cases, it can be quite mild. If left untreated, gingivitis does have the potential to become very serious. The general cure to gingivitis is correct dental hygiene – that is, brushing and flossing twice a day at a minimum and using a good mouthwash. If you’re already struggling with mild gingivitis, though, there are some at home treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms.

In addition to gingivitis, there are some other, less common causes of gum swelling. Vitamin deficiencies – specifically low levels of vitamins B and C – can lead to gum swelling. Anemia can have a similar symptom. Additionally, some women experience gum swelling when they are pregnant, regardless of how good and consistent their brushing is. Finally, dental infections can lead to swollen gums. If the symptoms refuse to abate with good brushing and trying one of these home remedies, it might be time to see a dentist to find out if there’s another cause.

How to Treat Swollen Gums

For starters, keep brushing and flossing your teeth gently. Ideally, you shouldn’t have any bleeding during your teeth cleaning routine. Also, did you know that your saliva naturally fights bacteria in your mouth? Make sure that you’re well-hydrated so that saliva is being produced correctly to combat the bacteria that cause your gums to swell up.

In addition, try to avoid drinking alcohol or using tobacco products. These will further irritate the already sensitive areas. If you want a quick fix for the discomfort, try using a hot or cold compress on your jaw. A hot compress will alleviate the pain, a cold compress will reduce swelling. If you’ve tried all of these things and still have trouble, try one of these at home remedies!

how to treat swollen gums

Home Remedies for Gum Swelling

There are a number of different options to treat gum swelling – some of them you will swish with water a few times a day, others apply a natural remedy directly to the affected area. Many of these involve ingredients that you probably already have at home!

  • Salt in water. The quintessential option for treating oral discomfort is swishing with salt water. I’ve never personally been a fan of this one – I can’t quite get over the taste – but it’s certainly effective! Drop a tablespoon of salt into a glass of warm water and rinse for a few seconds. You should do this at least twice a day, but some recommend when you wake up, before bed, and after every meal.
  • Clove oil. You only need a few drops, which you can put on your finger and then gently massage into the area that’s the most painful. Leave the clove oil on and try to be careful not to lick it off while it’s there – you get the best result if it completely absorbs into your gums! You can reapply clove oil every few hours, and if you want an extra kick to the remedy, try mixing the oil with black pepper (which is a natural anti-inflammatory) before applying.
  • Lemon juice. Same principal as the salt water. Combine a tablespoon of lemon juice (fresh or store-bought) with a glass of warm water and gargle for a few minutes. I find this one much more pleasant than the salt water. It’s probably a bit less effective, but worth it to me. Most sources recommend swishing with lemon water twice a day until you feel relief.
  • Essential oils. My little sister swears by essential oils, and after all of the research I’ve been doing into them recently, I have to say she might convert me. There are a lot of essential oils that could help decrease swelling, but your best bet, in this case, is going to be a combination of chamomile, tea tree, and peppermint oils. Add two drops of each to a glass of warm water and swish it around for a few minutes. With this one, you should also rinse your mouth with clean water afterward.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. You might have seen our article last week on the myriad of benefits of apple cider vinegar. Turns out that this is another one! It’s recommended that you combine one tablespoon of the vinegar with a glass of water and rinse, but I suspect you could use any of the recipes from that link if they taste better to you – just swish around instead of swallowing.
  • Vanilla Extract. This one will be applied just like the clove oil – take a few drops and massage it gently into your gums. Again, be sure that you don’t accidentally lick it off. It’ll taste terrible and decrease your results to boot! You should do this about twice a day, and feel free to use a Q-tip to apply if that seems easier than using a finger.

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Preventing Swollen Gums

Now like any health or hygiene issue, the easiest way to treat it is to prevent it in the first place! You might have figured out how to prevent gum swelling from hints earlier in the article, but I wanted to put them here in one place for clarity. Of course, the first and foremost solution to gum swelling is good dental hygiene. I am so guilty of not flossing often enough, so I know the struggle! But it really is so important to be brushing and flossing consistently. If you have dry mouth or another condition that makes cavities and other dental problems more likely, try using a fluoride-based mouthwash as well.

Additionally, make sure that you’re getting enough vitamin C, calcium, and folic acid. A lot of adults think that they don’t need to worry about calcium intake after their bones have finished growing. In fact, calcium actually has a lot of other benefits for the bones long after they’ve finished growing. Specific to this case, it helps to strengthen enamel and promote oral health. Vitamin C and folic acid are important for maintaining healthy gums. These vitamins and minerals occur naturally in a lot of foods, but you can certainly pick up a supplement if you’re worried about your levels.


While swollen gums are a huge pain, they’re pretty easy to treat and prevent from the comfort of your own home! Have you struggled with swollen gums in the past and found a great remedy? Does one of these work particularly well for you? Sound off in the comments to let us know what you’re thinking!

Recommended Article: 6 of the Best Home Remedies for Sensitive Teeth