Gum Pain: Possible Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

This annoyance is difficult to deal with, and many things can cause it, from illness to minor trauma.

It is important to take gum pain seriously as it can, in certain cases, be a symptom of gum disease .

Gum pain is a common symptom of canker sores on the gums that can result from a mouth injury, viral infections, emotional stress, hormonal changes, a weakened immune system, or a low-nutrient diet.

Gum pain is also a common symptom of gum disease.

Gum pain is also due to swelling and tenderness due to excess fluid (edema) in the gum tissues.

Causes of gum pain

The most common causes of dental pain are tooth decay and gum disease.

Gum pain is the result of a number of factors, including dental disease and vitamin deficiencies.

Dental disease is the most common cause of gum pain.

Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and infection of the gum line involving the teeth and bones (periodontitis) are common causes of gum pain.

The pain is associated with an increase in fluid. Mouth ulcers, which are not serious but painful, open sores that often develop on the gums, are another common cause of gum pain.

Mouth ulcers that are larger than half an inch can be very painful and should be treated by a dentist.

Gum pain can occur as a result of vitamin C deficiency.

Scurvy, as vitamin C deficiency is called, causes the gums to become soft, tender, spongy, and painful.

People with scurvy may lose some or all of their teeth.

A rare disorder known as Behcet’s syndrome, a condition that causes chronic inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body, causes numerous symptoms, such as mouth sores that can cause sore gums.

In some cases, gum pain can be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that needs to be evaluated immediately.

Pain can also be caused by a cracked or broken tooth, infection, and damage to a tooth from nervous grinding of the teeth.

A wisdom tooth can be painful when it is erupting but cannot penetrate the gum.

It can also be painful when the tooth is only partially inside and extra gum tissue has formed around it.

Gum pain can also be caused by:

  • Bacterial infection or abscess.
  • Toothbrush trauma.
  • Food trauma (from spicy food, hot food, or a sharp fragment).
  • Herpes simplex (cold sores).
  • Erupting tooth.
  • Oral cancer
  • Substance abuse, especially methamphetamine use.


In some cases, gum pain can occur with other symptoms that may indicate a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting.

Gum pain can be accompanied by symptoms that include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing.
  • Teeth sensitive to heat or cold.
  • Loosening or loss of teeth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Nausea.
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or along the neck.
  • Tongue pain
  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Bright red or purple-red and swollen gums.
  • High fever.

Diagnosing the cause of gum pain

To diagnose the condition, the doctor will ask a number of questions related to gum pain, including:

  • Time that you have pain in the gums.
  • Place where the gum pain is felt.
  • The presence of any other symptoms.
  • Medications being taken.
  • Possible complications of gum pain
  • Because gum pain can be caused by serious conditions, lack of treatment can lead to serious complications and permanent damage.

Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important that you follow treatment plans that are specifically designed to reduce the risk of possible complications, including:

  • Abscess or spread of infection.
  • Chronic pain and discomfort.
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty to swallow.
  • Endocarditis (infection of the heart originating in the mouth).
  • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).
  • Heart disease.
  • Periodontitis (infection of the gum line that affects the teeth and bones).
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial infection of the blood).


Treatment is conditional on the cause of the pain and inflammation.

To reduce facial pain and swelling, you can:

  • Put an ice or cold pack on the outside of the cheek for 10 to 20 minutes at a time and place a thin cloth between the ice and the skin. Do not use heat.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen for pain.
  • Your doctor may recommend antibiotics if the cause is an infection.
  • Avoid very hot or very cold foods and drinks. Also avoid spicy, salty and acidic foods.
  • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt every 2 hours to help relieve pain and swelling. Mix 1 teaspoon (5 g) of salt in 8 ounces (250 ml) of water.
  • Use a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth. To reduce pain when in contact with heat or cold or when brushing, brush with this toothpaste regularly or rub a small amount of paste on the sensitive area with a clean finger 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Gently floss between teeth.
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
  • Use only toothbrushes with soft or extra soft bristles.
  • Using mouthwashes that contain hydrogen peroxide, gels that are applied directly to sore gums (such as Anbesol)
  • If your gums are sore and you have a white coating on your tongue or cheeks, you could have an infection called yeast infection. It is a type of yeast infection. Eating yogurt with live cultures can help, but you should see a doctor or dentist if it doesn’t clear up.
  • To keep your gums healthy and prevent gum disease, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day is recommended.