Itchy gums can be a sign of several different conditions. These include gum disease, allergies, hormonal changes, and more. Figuring out which condition is causing your gums to itch can help you find a treatment and stop the itch.
Dental health is about more than just your teeth. Your gums — the delicate tissue that protects your teeth, roots, and nerves — are sensitive. They need your care, too. Without it, gums can develop several types of chronic dental conditions that can lead to serious consequences.
Figuring out what’s causing your itchy gums can help you find a treatment. If you aren’t sure what’s causing your symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist. Together, you can rule out some causes until you find the one that explains why your gums itch.
Trauma or injuries to the gums can cause pain, discomfort, and itching. These injuries may be the result of a physical injury, such as an injury sustained while playing a sport. An injury may also be the result of behaviors. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can cause headaches, jaw pain, and even itchy gums. Gums can also become irritated and itchy from using e-cigarettes and vaping.
A thin coating or film of plaque — a colorless, sticky substance — can build up over time. Mucus and food mix with bacteria to create an overgrowth of plaque. Over time, plaque can lead to gum disease. Symptoms of plaque buildup may include gum sensitivity, bleeding while brushing, and gums that itch.
The first phase of gum disease is gingivitis. Another name for gum disease is periodontal disease. Gingivitis is a mild form of the disease, and it’s caused by the buildup of plaque. At this phase, gingivitis likely hasn’t caused additional complications.
A sensitivity or allergy to certain things may cause itchy gums. These include foods, seeds, medicines, and pets. Even seasonal allergies like hay fever can cause itchy gums.
Swings in your natural hormone levels may impact how your gums feel. Women during pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, or menopause may experience itchy gums more frequently. They may also experience other oral symptoms, including pain, sensitivity, and bleeding during these times.
Your mouth does a good job of regulating your natural moisture. Sometimes, certain medical conditions or medications can keep your mouth from producing enough saliva to keep your gums and tongue moist. This can lead to dry mouth, and one of the common symptoms of this condition is itchy gums.
Ill-fitting dental devices
Dentures and partials that don’t fit well can cause problems. If there’s a gap between these devices and your gums, food can sneak in. Bacteria can start to grow, and an infection may develop. This can lead to inflammation, sensitivity, and itchy gums.
Treating itchy gums
Treatment for itchy gums depends on what’s causing the gums to itch. Several of these treatments for itchy gums are home remedies. Others may require treatment from your dentist.
Procedures and medicines
- Antihistamines: If itchy gums are the result of allergies, an antihistamine may stop the symptoms.
- Teeth guards: Prevent further damage to your teeth by wearing a guard while you play contact sports and while you sleep.
- Plaque scaling: This electric tool can help your dentist remove tartar and plaque buildup from above and below your gum line. It’s unlikely brushing alone can remove this buildup.
- Root planning: Your dentist may use this procedure to remove severe tartar buildup due to receded gums. This gives teeth and gums a fresh surface so they can reattach to healthy tissue.
- Lasering: This procedure removes plaque and tartar and may be an effective treatment in addition to traditional scaling and planing.
Home remedies and self-care
- Proper dental hygiene: Brushing and flossing your teeth two times per day is vital to good oral health. You should also consider using a toothpaste that’s designed to prevent tartar and plaque buildup. If you have an issue with inflammation or gum infections, an alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash may also be a good idea. Taking good care of your teeth and gums in the first place can go a long way to preventing future problems.
- Salt water: Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Gently swish the water around in your mouth, and spit it out. The salted water can relieve itching and irritation in the gums.
- Ice cubes: Gently suck on ice cubes to cool gums and stop the itching. As a bonus, the ice cubes can help hydrate you.
- Lifestyle changes: Smoking can irritate your gum health. Quitting may make the itching stop. This includes quitting e-cigarettes and vaping. Avoiding foods that irritate your gums can help, too. Spicy, acidic, starchy, or sugary foods are the most common culprits for gum irritation.
How to prevent itchy gums
The best way to prevent itchy gums is to take care of your teeth and gums. The fewer problems you have with your teeth and gums, the fewer symptoms of periodontal disease you’ll experience.
These tips can help you prevent itchy gums:
- Have regular cleanings: Visit your dentist twice a year for a deep cleaning. Your dentist can also use these appointments to monitor any potential future problems.
- Brush and floss daily: Brush your teeth and floss at least twice per day. Rinse with alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash if you’ve had problems with inflammation and infection.
- Rinse your teeth after meals: Brushing would be better, but rinsing will remove food. This can cut down on bacteria growth.
- Limit irritating foods: Acidic, starchy, and sugary foods may aggravate sensitive gums. If you experience itchy gums when you eat these foods, cut back on them to end the symptoms.
When to see your doctor
Make an appointment to see your dentist if you experience itching and any other symptoms for three days without relief. In some cases, the itching will go away on its own. However, if it’s not getting better, your doctor can help you identify what might be causing it.
Your dental health is closely connected to your overall health. Taking care of your gums and teeth helps take care of your whole body. If you’re experiencing unusual signs and symptoms, it’s important you figure out what could be causing it and prevent it from causing problems in the future. Otherwise, you increase your risk for developing more serious dental health issues, including periodontal disease and teeth damage.