Causes of Gum Pain: What to Do When Your Gums Hurt

There are many reasons your gums might hurt. However, they aren’t all reasons to head to the dentist. For example, sore gums can result from applying too much pressure when you brush your teeth. 

Additionally, dentures and braces can cause gum irritation. Pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation can also cause swelling and gum pain. Alternatively, gum pain can be a symptom of a larger problem, like gum disease. 

In some cases, you can treat yourself at home and bring relief from sore gums. But first, it’s important to understand whether you need to see your dentist. 

Soothing Sore Gums

First, try these simple methods to soothe aching gums. 

  • Switch to a toothbrush with softer bristles (Soft or Extra-Soft)
  • Use an over-the-counter painkiller (following directions on the label)
  • Rinse with warm salt water

Additionally, these over-the-counter products can provide some relief: 

  • Gels applied directly to the gums
  • Mouthwashes with hydrogen peroxide

When your gums hurt, you might notice a white coating on your cheeks or tongue. This may be an infection called thrush. Thrush is a sort of yeast infection. 

Yogurt with live cultures can help treat this infection. However, visit your dentist or doctor if it doesn’t clear up soon. 

What Are the Causes of Gum Pain?

There are many causes of gum pain. However, certain issues don’t cause pain right away. Moreover, these reasons range from minor to severe. 

Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons gums hurt. 

Gum Disease (Periodontitis) 

The early signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, and bleeding. Usually, these result from a lack of brushing and flossing. The early stage is called gingivitis, and you might not feel pain early on. 

Regular brushing and flossing can help to mitigate gingivitis and prevent it from worsening. Without proper care, your gums begin to recede from your teeth. This creates little pockets in your gums, allowing tiny pieces of food to get stuck and cause infection. Then, teeth may loosen, or the bone can degrade, leading to tooth loss. 

Tobacco

Tobacco use makes you more likely to have gum disease. This is true regardless of whether you smoke or use dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco. “Smokeless” tobacco products go between the gums and cheeks. So, they can do more harm to your mouth. 

Similar to gum disease, the gums can pull away from your teeth. Additionally, you might develop sores in your mouth and on the gums. Worse yet, it can lead to oral cancer

Abscessed Tooth

If you get an infection near the root of your tooth, it forms an abscess – a kind of pus pocket. These don’t always cause pain, but they often do. Additionally, some abscessed teeth cause swelling in the gums. 

If your gums hurt or swell, see the dentist. Treating the tooth may require a root canal

Canker Sores

These sores appear in the mouth, not limited to the gums. Usually, they look like red splotches, but they can also appear white. Typically, they go away on their own in a week or two. 

While you wait for them to heal, it’s good to avoid salty, acidic, and spicy foods. Additionally, you can use some of the home and OTC remedies mentioned above. If the canker sore grows, doesn’t heal, or interferes with your drinking and eating, see your dentist. 

Hormone Changes

Hormones can impact the gums at different points in life. For example, more blood flows to the gums during puberty, which can cause them to swell or feel tender. Moreover, you may notice pain during menstrual periods. 

Pregnant people experience hormone surges that can impact the gums. If you experience excessive pain or bleeding in the gums, talk to your doctor. When you hit menopause, there is another shift in your hormone levels, which can cause gums to bleed or change colors. 

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can start on the gums, inner cheek, tonsils, or tongue. It may start as a sore that refuses to heal. At first, there may be no pain. 

That’s why it is important to stay vigilant and keep an eye on any sores on the gums or in the mouth. If it doesn’t heal in a couple of weeks, visit your dentist. 

When Should I See the Dentist?

If your gums hurt or bleed for over a week, your dentist can check for symptoms of gum disease. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to painful abscesses and tooth loss. 

Book an appointment with your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms: 

  • Ongoing gum pain
  • Receding gum lines 
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen, red gums
  • Dentures no longer fit correctly
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold 
  • Pain when you chew

To prevent gum disease, brush, floss, and attend your regular dental cleanings. At Kerst & Caskey Family Dentistry, we are always here to help. When you are our patient, you’re a part of our family. If you have any questions or need an exam, schedule an appointment with our team. 

There are many reasons your gums might hurt. However, they aren’t all reasons to head to the dentist. For example, sore gums can result from applying too much pressure when you brush your teeth. 

Additionally, dentures and braces can cause gum irritation. Pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation can also cause swelling and gum pain. Alternatively, gum pain can be a symptom of a larger problem, like gum disease. 

In some cases, you can treat yourself at home and bring relief from sore gums. But first, it’s important to understand whether you need to see your dentist. 

Soothing Sore Gums

First, try these simple methods to soothe aching gums. 

  • Switch to a toothbrush with softer bristles (Soft or Extra-Soft)
  • Use an over-the-counter painkiller (following directions on the label)
  • Rinse with warm salt water

Additionally, these over-the-counter products can provide some relief: 

  • Gels applied directly to the gums
  • Mouthwashes with hydrogen peroxide

When your gums hurt, you might notice a white coating on your cheeks or tongue. This may be an infection called thrush. Thrush is a sort of yeast infection. 

Yogurt with live cultures can help treat this infection. However, visit your dentist or doctor if it doesn’t clear up soon. 

What Are the Causes of Gum Pain?

There are many causes of gum pain. However, certain issues don’t cause pain right away. Moreover, these reasons range from minor to severe. 

Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons gums hurt. 

Gum Disease (Periodontitis) 

The early signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, and bleeding. Usually, these result from a lack of brushing and flossing. The early stage is called gingivitis, and you might not feel pain early on. 

Regular brushing and flossing can help to mitigate gingivitis and prevent it from worsening. Without proper care, your gums begin to recede from your teeth. This creates little pockets in your gums, allowing tiny pieces of food to get stuck and cause infection. Then, teeth may loosen, or the bone can degrade, leading to tooth loss. 

Tobacco

Tobacco use makes you more likely to have gum disease. This is true regardless of whether you smoke or use dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco. “Smokeless” tobacco products go between the gums and cheeks. So, they can do more harm to your mouth. 

Similar to gum disease, the gums can pull away from your teeth. Additionally, you might develop sores in your mouth and on the gums. Worse yet, it can lead to oral cancer

Abscessed Tooth

If you get an infection near the root of your tooth, it forms an abscess – a kind of pus pocket. These don’t always cause pain, but they often do. Additionally, some abscessed teeth cause swelling in the gums. 

If your gums hurt or swell, see the dentist. Treating the tooth may require a root canal

Canker Sores

These sores appear in the mouth, not limited to the gums. Usually, they look like red splotches, but they can also appear white. Typically, they go away on their own in a week or two. 

While you wait for them to heal, it’s good to avoid salty, acidic, and spicy foods. Additionally, you can use some of the home and OTC remedies mentioned above. If the canker sore grows, doesn’t heal, or interferes with your drinking and eating, see your dentist. 

Hormone Changes

Hormones can impact the gums at different points in life. For example, more blood flows to the gums during puberty, which can cause them to swell or feel tender. Moreover, you may notice pain during menstrual periods. 

Pregnant people experience hormone surges that can impact the gums. If you experience excessive pain or bleeding in the gums, talk to your doctor. When you hit menopause, there is another shift in your hormone levels, which can cause gums to bleed or change colors. 

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can start on the gums, inner cheek, tonsils, or tongue. It may start as a sore that refuses to heal. At first, there may be no pain. 

That’s why it is important to stay vigilant and keep an eye on any sores on the gums or in the mouth. If it doesn’t heal in a couple of weeks, visit your dentist. 

When Should I See the Dentist?

If your gums hurt or bleed for over a week, your dentist can check for symptoms of gum disease. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to painful abscesses and tooth loss. 

Book an appointment with your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms: 

  • Ongoing gum pain
  • Receding gum lines 
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen, red gums
  • Dentures no longer fit correctly
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold 
  • Pain when you chew

To prevent gum disease, brush, floss, and attend your regular dental cleanings. At Kerst & Caskey Family Dentistry, we are always here to help. When you are our patient, you’re a part of our family. If you have any questions or need an exam, schedule an appointment with our team.