Understanding Itchy Gums: Causes and Considerations for Dental Practitioners

Exploring Allergies, Oral Hygiene, and Dental Conditions Associated with Itchy Gums in Clinical Practice
Allergies could be a factor for itchy gums, whether due to food, medications, specific food items, or oral care products. (Representational image: Wikimedia Commons)
Allergies could be a factor for itchy gums, whether due to food, medications, specific food items, or oral care products. (Representational image: Wikimedia Commons)

It's possible to experience itchy gums, which can range from mild to severe. In such situations, it's important for both patients and dental practitioners to discuss the possible reasons behind this issue. Allergies could be a factor, whether due to food, medications, specific food items, or oral care products. Another common cause is poor oral hygiene, which can contribute to dental issues such as gum diseases, leading to inflammation and itching.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Sometimes, when we eat certain fruits and food items, there can be an allergic reaction that causes itching in the gums. This could be due to the protein content in these foods, which can resemble pollen proteins and often stimulates an allergic reaction by the body, manifesting as itching in the gums. This is known as oral allergy syndrome. Fruits such as apples, cherries, melons, and certain nuts contain proteins that can cause allergies. That is why it is recommended to wash, peel, or cook these foods, as heat alters the proteins and prevents this reaction.

The pathogens causing periodontitis trigger an inflammatory reaction, which produces mediators of inflammation that cause itching in the gums.(Representational image: Wikimedia Commons)
The pathogens causing periodontitis trigger an inflammatory reaction, which produces mediators of inflammation that cause itching in the gums.(Representational image: Wikimedia Commons)

Gum diseases

Gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis can cause itching in the gums. Gingivitis occurs when there is plaque and biofilm accumulation on the tooth surface, and in its severe form, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, affecting the structures surrounding the tooth, namely the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. The pathogens causing periodontitis trigger an inflammatory reaction, which produces mediators of inflammation that cause itching in the gums. Therefore, it is always recommended to maintain a clean environment through professional cleaning and scaling. In cases of severe periodontitis, procedures such as root cleaning and antimicrobial rinses with chlorhexidine are recommended. In certain situations, antibiotic therapy might also be necessary.

I typically begin by taking a detailed medical and medication history to assess potential factors contributing to itching gums. Following a thorough examination, I proceed step by step towards diagnosis. This typically starts with reviewing medication history, followed by conventional cleaning. If necessary, we progress to root cleaning and laser treatment to effectively eliminate pathogens responsible for periodontal issues and itching gums

Dr.Anahita Punj, Senior Periodontist and Founder at AM Dental Ally, Yapral, Secunderabad

Dry mouth/Xerostomia

Saliva helps to keep the oral cavity moist, aids in digestion, and acts against bacteria. Conditions such as Sjögren's syndrome, mouth breathing, certain medications, and radiation therapy often cause dry mouth. Reduced salivary secretion leads to discomfort and itching in the gums. It is advised to use salivary substitutes and increase water intake to keep the oral cavity moist.

Hormonal changes

Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone might also play a role in causing itching of the gums. These hormones can increase the amount of blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive and prone to itching.

Wrong toothbrushing

Aggressive brushing can sometimes cause itching in the gums due to the physical injury caused by the brushing technique. Additionally, injuries caused by foreign objects such as braces or dentures can inflame the gums and make them itchy.

I advise my patients to treat their gums gently and avoid aggressive tooth brushing. Physical injury from harsh brushing can lead to inflammation and itching in the gums

Dr.Karamvir Singh Sehrawat,Senior Dental Surgeon and Founder at Origin Dental Clinic, Shyam Vihar, Dwarka, New Delhi

Oral care products

Some ingredients in toothpaste or mouthwash can cause allergic reactions, resulting in mild irritation or more severe symptoms such as swelling and itching. Common allergens include fluoride, flavoring agents, preservatives like parabens, and foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate.

Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which affects the body's ability to fight infections. This impact extends to the gums, causing conditions like dry mouth, which further increases the risk of gum diseases. Elevated blood sugar levels also make the gums more tender, prone to swelling, and more sensitive, which can cause itching.

References:

1.https://amazingsmiles.com.au/itchy-gums/

2.https://www.verywellhealth.com/itchy-mouth-5441601

3.https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/symptoms-causes/syc-20356048

4.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319565#possible-causes

By Dr. Manav Chaturvedi

MSM

Allergies could be a factor for itchy gums, whether due to food, medications, specific food items, or oral care products. (Representational image: Wikimedia Commons)
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