Why Do My Gums Hurt?

Most people experience gum pain at some point in their lives. Some may deal with pain or bleeding when flossing after taking a long break from the practice. Others may discover swollen gums due to a mouth sore.

Gum pain is a common issue, but can sometimes be an underlying symptom of a more serious problem. In this blog, we’ll break down the most common reasons for people to experience gum pain.

Note that if you are experiencing gum pain, swelling, or bleeding, inform your dentist as soon as possible to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis.

Causes of Gum Pain

Gum pain and soreness can be caused by a number of different factors. Frequently sore gums are due to a combination of several issues or complications. Here are some common causes of gum pain:

1. Brushing Too Hard

Gums, like skin, are made of soft tissue. Just like any other skin, that tissue can become irritated. Brushing your teeth too vigorously can cause the gums to become inflamed, resulting in gum pain.

If you make a habit of brushing your teeth too hard, you could eventually be dealing with gum recession – the gradual but noticeable disappearance of the gum line – revealing the sensitive root structure underneath.

2. Periodontal Disease

Gum disease – known more commonly as periodontal disease – occurs when you don’t properly clean your teeth and gums, leading to the accumulation of bacteria. Over time, this can cause the gums to swell and bleed. If not treated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

3. Mouth Sores

Canker sores on the inside of the mouth, including on the gingiva, are fairly common and generally heal within 7 days. Unfortunately, they can be quite painful.

The best way to prevent sores is to practice good oral hygiene habits since sores are often formed as a natural response to bacteria in your mouth. However, there are a number of other risk factors for canker sores. If detected early, canker sores can be resolved within a few days with the proper prescription medication.

4. Tobacco Use

Smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to sore gums for a number of reasons. If you’re a smoker, the heat from the cigarette can burn the gums, leading to tenderness and soreness. Tobacco also weakens the immune system, making it easier for bacteria to form and fester. Smoking and tobacco use is one of the leading causes for periodontal disease.

5. Burns

Hot foods and beverages can burn your mouth, including your gums. If your gums have been burned, here are some easy remedies:

Mouth Burn Home Remedies

  • Rinse your mouth with cold water
  • Apply an ice cube to the area
  • Avoid crunchy or spicy foods
  • If the pain is severe, take ibuprofen
  • If the burn is severe, contact a doctor

6. Allergies to Hygiene Products

People occasionally experience swollen gums as an allergic reaction to a new type of toothpaste, floss, or mouthwash. If you’ve recently switched to a new hygiene product and have swollen or irritated gums, lips, or cheek tissue, stop using the product and contact your doctor.

7. Hormonal Changes

A surge in the production of progesterone – a female sex hormone – can lead to changes in the body’s blood flow.

During puberty, this causes the gums to become increasingly sensitive, making them more vulnerable to plaque and bacteria.

During the menstrual cycle, people may experience swollen or tender gums in the day or two leading up to their period, but it should subside quickly after their period starts.

Pregnant women may experience sore or swollen gums beginning in the early stages of pregnancy and may continue throughout all trimesters. These issues may resolve after giving birth, but sometimes they can continue after pregnancy and require additional treatment for gums.

Finally, people going through menopause may also find that their gums are drier, leading to increased risk for soreness or bleeding.

8. Abscess

A periodontal abscess is a pus-filled bump that appears on the gum, either white or red in color. Abscesses can be quite painful and must be treated accordingly.

If not treated, abscesses can lead to long-term damage to the gum and bone. For these reasons, it’s advised that you visit a dentist for immediate treatment if you have an abscess in your mouth.

9. Dentures and Partials

Denture sores occur when the denture rubs consistently against the gums. This can happen when someone is still adjusting to a new set of dentures, or when an older set of dentures requires replacement.

If you are experiencing denture sores, call your dentist to determine if a denture replacement is necessary.

10. Vitamin C Deficiency

Swollen or bleeding gums is one symptom of scurvy, a condition defined by a severe Vitamin C deficiency. If you are experiencing any of the following scurvy symptoms in addition to swollen or bleeding gums, call your doctor.

Symptoms of Scurvy

  • Severe joint pain
  • Unusual red or blue spots on the skin
  • Rough or scaly skin
  • Irritability
  • Weakness, fatigue, and lethargy
  • Anemia
  • Wounds that won’t heal

11. Oral cancer

Smoking isn’t the only risk factor for oral cancer – 25% of people with oral cancer are non-smokers. The early stages of oral cancer can be difficult to detect from home, as they often resemble more common oral pathology. Be aware of these other oral cancer symptoms and see a dentist immediately if you are dealing with unusual oral health problems.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

  • Ulcers
  • Red or white patches on tongue or mouth
  • Swollen gums
  • Toothache
  • Swellings, lumps, or rough spots on the inside of the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Jaw pain or swelling
  • Consistently bad breath
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sore throat or change in the voice

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a specific form of gum disease that is caused by poor dental cleaning habits. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, irritated, inflamed, puffy, receding, or bleeding gums.

How to Treat Gingivitis

The easiest way to treat gingivitis is to get your teeth cleaned professionally to remove plaque buildup, and to perform regular mouth rinses as directed by a dentist.

Other sore gums home remedies for gingivitis include:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each
  • Switching to an electric toothbrush
  • Flossing daily
  • Rinsing with antiseptic mouthwash
  • Attending bi-annual professional dental cleanings
  • Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco

Periodontist in Arlington, VA

If you are concerned about periodontal disease or gum issues, contact CNS Dental to see our Periodontist, Dr. Changi. He will conduct an exam to determine the course of required treatment to resolve any periodontal issues.