Reasons For Your Child’s Puffy Gums

swollen and puffy gumsHave you noticed sudden puffiness in your child’s gums? If so, read this guide on possible causes of puffy gums and what you can do.

Healthy Gums

Let’s start with some basics. Why are healthy gums important?

In short, your gums are integral to protecting and keeping your teeth healthy. They act as a “sealant” that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the deeper parts of your teeth. Your gums are also responsible for keeping your teeth in place.

This means that when gums are damaged or recede, they may begin allowing gaps to form in the protective barrier. Bacteria and food particles will have an easier time burrowing into those spots, resulting in an increased chance of tooth decay and infections.

Another reason to maintain our gum health is simply to keep discomfort at bay. Gum infections often result in pain and swelling, lowering your quality of life.

What Do Healthy Gums Look Like?

The first things to look out for when it comes to your gums are color and sensitivity. For most people, healthy gums are light pink and fit tightly around teeth. Keep in mind that some people do have naturally darker gums. This coloring can be normal as well. 

The main thing to look out for is sudden changes in color or texture. For example, if you notice that your gums suddenly appear significantly redder than they have ever been, that may be a sign of an oral condition.

Your gums should also be painless and free of swelling or discomfort. As for texture, gums should be somewhat firm to the touch. They shouldn’t be too easy to wiggle around or shift. Sudden puffiness or swelling can also be a sign of unhealthy gums.

Swollen Gums

Sometimes, slightly swollen gums can be a one-off thing. For example, a stray kernel of corn stuck in between two teeth can cause a little bit of swelling. Swollen gums can also be one of the earlier signs of an oral condition. Inflammation and gum disease, for example, are two possible causes of swollen gums.

Common Causes Of Swollen Gums

plaque on teeth

The best way to find out why your child’s gums are swollen is to see a dentist. In the meantime, however, here are a few of the most common reasons your dentist might talk about.


One of the most common reasons for puffy gums in babies and small children is teething. A little bit of discomfort is to be expected when your baby’s first teeth begin erupting from their gums. This discomfort can be accompanied by various symptoms such as biting, irritability, drooling, and of course, swelling.


Gingivitis is an irritation of the gums caused by plaque buildup. In many cases of minor gingivitis, the condition is fixable with a thorough dental cleaning and good brushing habits. When ignored, however, gingivitis can worsen and eventually lead to gum disease, a much more serious oral condition.

Children are often more prone to gingivitis since kids often have a hard time thoroughly brushing their teeth. That’s why it is so important to teach good oral health habits early on.


Swelling of the gums is not always due to a dangerous oral health condition. Occasionally, it’s simply due to a bout of short-term irritation of the gums. For example, oral allergies, wisdom teeth, and surgical procedures can all cause a little bit of temporary puffiness in the gums. 

It is still a good idea to mention gum irritation to your kid’s pediatric dentist, even if you suspect it’s nothing. Those bi-annual dentist visits are your first line of defense against oral conditions.

Gum Disease

Periodontitis (aka gum disease) most often develops following gingivitis. Gum disease is a very serious condition that can cause problems such as bleeding gums, recession of the gum line, painful chewing, loose teeth, swelling, bad breath, and much more. It’s imperative to begin combating gum disease as soon as it is found. Left untreated, periodontitis can worsen and cause significant damage to your oral health.


Swollen gums from bacteria can begin as early as when they get their first tooth. Inflammation is frequently caused by bacteria that thrive in the warm, moist environment of the mouth. When these bacteria accumulate along the gumline, they can lead to the formation of plaque, which, if not properly cleaned, can irritate the gums, causing them to become swollen and sensitive. This is particularly common in young children who are still learning the importance of dental hygiene. The introduction of new teeth provides additional surfaces for bacteria to adhere to, increasing the risk of gum inflammation.


Swelling of the gums can also happen around a single area rather than all across the gum line. When an infection is left untreated, it can cause an abscess (aka a pocket of pus) in the area affected. The best thing to do if you notice swelling around a single tooth or spot in your mouth is to see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to drain the abscess, treat the tooth, and possibly prescribe antibiotics for the infection.


Nutrients support every function and every part of your body, including your teeth and gums. Although we may often not realize it, vitamin deficiencies can cause a variety of havoc in the body, including gum problems. For example, vitamin C deficiency (aka scurvy), can lead to gum disease, loss of teeth, and swelling of the gums.

Swollen Gums With Braces

girl with braces

Many children get braces to correct teeth misalignments. If your child has ever undergone this procedure, you may already know that those initial days following the installment of braces can come with their fair share of challenges. Aside from general mouth discomfort, the braces can even cause a little bit of gum swelling. The important thing is to continue brushing and flossing thoroughly. If the swelling does not improve within a day or two, it’s best to consult with your pediatric dentist again.

Why Do Braces Make Gums Puffy

Braces can make a child’s gums puffy for several reasons, primarily linked to oral hygiene challenges and the body’s reaction to orthodontic treatment. When a child has braces, cleaning teeth becomes more complex due to the brackets and wires, which can trap food particles and plaque more easily than smooth teeth surfaces. If plaque accumulates around the braces and is not thoroughly removed, it can irritate the gum tissue, leading to inflammation and puffiness. This condition, known as gingivitis, is the body’s response to the bacteria found in the plaque.

Moreover, the initial placement of braces and subsequent adjustments can exert pressure on the teeth and gums, potentially causing a mild inflammatory response as the mouth adapts to the new forces. This reaction can make the gums appear more swollen than usual.

Ensuring meticulous oral hygiene by brushing after every meal, using floss threaders, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash can mitigate these issues. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are also crucial during orthodontic treatment to maintain gum health and prevent puffiness. Orthodontists often provide specific instructions for care to ensure that braces do not lead to long-term gum problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope this article helped answer a few of your questions regarding puffy gums. Just in case, however, here are a few more answers to frequently asked questions.

How To Cure Gum Disease Without A Dentist?

You should always see a dentist for gum disease. A dentist can not only verify the condition but can also recommend a course of action. This can include a variety of treatments such as dental cleaning, scaling, or even antibiotics.

In the meantime, however, you will have a large role to play in your child’s continued dental health. In order to halt gum disease, it’s imperative that they begin taking care of their teeth properly. This care means daily brushing and flossing, as well as managing sugar intake and cavities.

How To Drain A Gum Abscess At Home?

You should always consult with a dentist regarding a gum abscess. They can advise you on possible treatment options and evaluate your overall dental health. The important thing to keep in mind is that an abscess rarely appears on its own. It is most likely the result of an infection that needs to be treated as soon as possible.

How To Fix Receding Gums?

The first step to take regarding receding gums is to visit the dentist. Your pediatric dentist can evaluate your children’s teeth and gums to determine the cause of the receding gums. They can then take steps to clean out as much of the plaque as possible and provide you with instructions to slow further receding of the gums.

What Does Gum Disease Look Like?

Gum disease often comes accompanied by symptoms such as these:

  • Receding Gums
  • Swollen Gums
  • Bad Breath
  • Loose (Or Missing) Teeth

It’s crucial to tackle gum disease as early as possible since the symptoms can worsen over time. Eventually, gum disease can have a harsh effect on your quality of life. For example, gum disease can cause pain, discomfort, missing teeth, and aesthetic concerns.

Can Gums Grow Back?

The short answer is no. In the majority of cases, gum tissue does not grow back once it’s gone. However, there are a few dental options for patients who have suffered significant gum recession. For example, a gum graft procedure involves taking tissue from another part of the mouth and grafting it to your gums. This way, the appearance of receding gums can be heavily minimized.

Tennessee Pediatric Dentist

Are you looking for a pediatric dentist in the Tennessee area? Snodgrass-King Dental has your back. We offer top-notch dental care for children and adults alike. Unlike other dental offices, we can offer dental services for the whole family. This way, you can know all of your family’s dental providers on a first-name basis.

Get Help With Puffy Gums

Interested in setting up your first dental appointment? Call or visit our contact page to get started.