A person may experience swollen gums around one specific tooth. Some reasons for this type of gum inflammation include poor dental hygiene, an abscess, and periodontal disease.

Localized swelling around one tooth could be due to something as simple as food stuck in the gums due to improper brushing or flossing. This food debris can cause inflammation and tooth decay over time.

Other times the swelling of the gums around one tooth could indicate something more severe, like an infection. If a person does not properly treat a dental problem, it may lead to more serious problems.

This article outlines the possible causes of swollen gum around one tooth. It also provides information on treatment and when to see a dentist.

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There are several reasons a person may experience localized swelling around a specific tooth. Possible causes include the following.

Poor dental hygiene

Sometimes, food debris remains between the tooth and the gum line. If a person does not remove the debris, it can cause plaque buildup and the gum around the tooth to swell. Over time, this may result in dental decay and gum disease.

In addition to swelling around one tooth, some other signs of poor dental hygiene may include:

  • gum redness
  • bad breath
  • loose or broken teeth
  • bleeding while brushing or flossing teeth

Flossing and brushing will usually remove this debris.

Periodontal disease

In the United States, about 46% of people ages 30 years or older show signs of gum disease. The medical term for this is periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease happens due to infection and inflammation of the gums that support and surround the teeth. These infections occur when a person has a buildup of plaque. Plaque hardens to form tartar, which is more difficult to remove.

There are two stages of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. When a person has gingivitis, their gums can swell. This condition is reversible, but it can lead to periodontitis.

Periodontitis is the second stage of periodontal disease, during which the gums pull away, or recede, from the tooth. When this happens, an infection can damage the bone that supports the tooth, causing the tooth to loosen or even fall out. A person with periodontitis will experience the following symptoms in addition to those of gingivitis:

  • teeth that appear longer due to gum recession
  • teeth that appear further apart
  • teeth that are loose or wobbly
  • pus between the gums and teeth
  • a change in the way that the teeth fit together when biting
  • a change in the fit of partial dentures

Dental abscess

A dental abscess is a collection of pus that forms within a tooth or its surrounding structures due to a bacterial infection. An abscess is when the infection enters the jawbone from the root tip. Without treatment, a dental abscess may lead to severe infections in the neck or head.

There are two types of dental abscesses: Periapical abscesses and periodontal abscesses. The former usually occurs due to decay or tooth fractures and affects the root of a tooth. The latter mainly affects the gums.

Both types of dental abscesses may cause gum swelling and redness around one tooth. Other symptoms of a dental abscess include:

  • intense throbbing pain in the tooth or gum
  • pain that radiates to the ear, jaw, or neck
  • pain that is worse when lying down
  • a tender, discolored, or loose tooth
  • facial redness and swelling
  • sensitivity to hot and cold foods or beverages
  • bad breath
  • an unpleasant taste in the mouth

If the dental abscess is severe, a person may also experience:

The following home remedies can help reduce gum inflammation and improve gum health.

Antiseptic mouthwash

Antiseptic mouthwash cannot remove existing plaque and tartar, but it can help control the buildup of additional plaque bacteria.

Antiseptic mouthwash is available over the counter at drugstores and pharmacies.

Sometimes, dentists may prescribe an antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine. Research suggests this is the most effective ingredient in antiseptic mouthwashes.

Saltwater rinse

A 2021 study investigated the effects of a saltwater rinse on gum wound healing following periodontal surgery. Researchers found that salt water rinses reduced inflammation, and contributed to the healing process as effectively as medicated mouthwashes.

People can make an effective saltwater solution by dissolving a level teaspoon of salt in a cup of cooled boiled water. They can rinse with the solution three to four times a day.

Tea tree oil rinse

A 2020 trial found that tea tree oil can be an effective treatment against gingivitis. These ingredients have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

In the study, participants using tea tree oil rinses showed improvements in various measures of gum health, including reduced plaque and gum inflammation.

Turmeric gel

Turmeric is a yellow spice common in the culinary world and Ayurvedic medicine. Some people use turmeric orally as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Because of the anti-inflammatory benefits of its main ingredient, curcumin, it may also help relieve pain.


Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help reduce gum pain while a person undergoes treatment for dental abscesses or periodontal disease.

People can speak to their dentist about the following medical treatments:

Tooth scaling and polishing

Professional tooth cleaning removes tartar from the teeth, which can help prevent the progression of gingivitis.

In these procedures, the dental hygienist uses special instruments to scrape off the tartar during the cleaning. They then smooth and polish the tooth’s surface to help prevent future plaque accumulation.

Root planing

Root planing is a deep cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from the roots of teeth.

People who undergo this procedure will often receive a local anesthetic.


Oral antibiotics are usually effective in treating dental abscesses. A person must also undergo dental treatment, such as a root canal or extraction, to address the cause of the abscess

Sometimes, the infection may spread to other body parts. In very severe cases, a person may need to stay in the hospital and receive intravenous antibiotics.

Incision and drainage

In some cases, a dentist may need to make an incision in the abscess to drain and remove the infected pus.

After drainage, the dentist will flush the area with saline. Other treatments may also be necessary.

Root canal

A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing bacteria from the infected tooth roots.

The dentist accesses the tooth roots via the crown, the visible part of the tooth. They then clean and fill the roots and crown. Some people may need an artificial crown to protect and restore the tooth.

Tooth extraction

Occasionally, a dentist may need to remove the infected tooth. This procedure will require local anesthesia. Recovery after an extraction is often straightforward. However, some people with bleeding disorders or on certain medications may require additional treatment to stop excessive bleeding.

People should have a dental checkup at least once or twice a year, even if they do not have any tooth or gum symptoms.

Checkups allow the dentist to treat any problems in the early stages before they become more severe.

People should see a dentist between scheduled visits if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • swollen or bleeding gums
  • mouth spots or sores that last longer than a week
  • jaw pain or an uneven bite
  • difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • pain or swelling in the mouth, face, or neck

The best way to prevent gum inflammation is to practice good oral hygiene by:

  • brushing the teeth twice a day
  • flossing at least once a day
  • having a dental checkup once or twice a year
  • visiting the dentist if experiencing swollen gums or tooth pain
  • avoiding excess sugar to prevent plaque formation
  • avoiding tobacco use

Swollen gums around one tooth can occur for many reasons, including poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease.

People should visit the dentist if the swelling persists for more than a week. An earlier appointment is necessary if a person suspects a tooth abscess.

In many cases, a person can prevent gum swelling by practicing good oral hygiene, which involves brushing and flossing regularly and visiting the dentist for routine checkups.