Gum Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Most people experience it at least once. It is much less common in children.

The gum disease is a common condition where the gums are inflamed, painful or infected.

If you have gum disease, your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth, and you may have bad breath. This early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis.

If gingivitis is not treated, a condition called periodontitis can develop. This affects more tissues that support the teeth and hold them in place.

If periodontitis is not treated, the jaw bone can be damaged and small spaces can open between the gum and teeth. Your teeth can loosen and eventually they can fall out.

Causes of gum pain

Painful gums are a common problem. Gum pain, swelling, or bleeding can be caused by a variety of conditions.

1. Brushing and flossing

Good dental hygiene includes brushing and flossing. However, if it is too aggressive, it can irritate and even damage your gums, especially if you use a toothbrush with hard, stiff bristles.

If your gums hurt after brushing, use a brush with soft bristles.

2. Gum disease

If your gums are red, swollen, and bleeding, there is a possibility that you have gum disease (periodontal disease).

This is usually the result of not flossing and brushing your teeth often enough. The most common type of gum disease is gingivitis. A less common but more serious type is periodontitis.

By treating it early, gingivitis can be reversed with proper oral hygiene. To stop your gums from hurting, brush and floss twice a day and use mouthwash. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which could lead to tooth loss.

3. Mouth ulcers (ulcers in the mouth)

Mouth ulcers, also known as mouth ulcers, are non-contagious, painful sores that appear on the gums and other parts of the mouth. They are sometimes red, but they can also have a white coating.

The cause of mouth ulcers is unknown, but they are believed to be the result of a viral or bacterial infection. People with autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop mouth ulcers.

There is no specific medical recommendation to treat canker sores. They have a tendency to disappear in 14 days. If a mouth ulcer lasts longer than three weeks, see your dentist.

4. Tobacco

Smoking tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars can damage your gums. Using smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco or tobacco, can cause even more harm. If you use tobacco, this could be why your gums hurt.

To improve the health of your gums, stop using tobacco products. Not only do they damage the gums, but they can also cause cancer.

5. Allergic reaction to dental hygiene products

Some people have allergic reactions to ingredients in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and other oral hygiene products. This could be the reason why your gums hurt.

If you think you might be allergic to a dental hygiene product, try to find out which one is responsible for the reaction – simply remove one product at a time to identify the one causing the symptom. Once you identify the product, stop using it.

6. Food allergy

Sore gums can be an allergic reaction to food rather than a dental hygiene product.

An elimination diet can help you identify which food allergy is damaging your gums. To test this diet, stop eating a certain food for 30 days and then reintroduce it to see what happens.

A quicker way to determine what food or other substance is causing a reaction is to meet with an allergist. They can help you identify the cause of your reaction and recommend treatment, which will likely include avoiding it.

7. Burns

Sometimes you can burn your gums on hot foods like pizza or coffee and forget about the incident. Later, the burned area feels painful.

If you do not continue to irritate the burn with hot food or aggressive brushing, the gum tissue will generally heal in 10 days to two weeks.

8. Hormonal changes

For many women, changes in hormones can affect their gums at different times in their lives, including:


The influx of hormones during puberty can increase blood flow to the gums, which can cause swelling and tenderness.


Shortly before each menstrual period, some women’s gums may become inflamed and are more likely to bleed. This problem usually goes away after menstruation has started.

The pregnancy

Starting in the second or third month of pregnancy and up to the eighth month, some women experience swollen, sore, and bleeding gums.


Some women going through menopause find their gums unusually dry, which can lead to pain and the possibility of bleeding.

If you notice gum pain associated with one of these hormonal events, have your dentist review your situation and recommend treatment.

9. Abscessed tooth

An infection near the root of a tooth can form an abscess. This can result in painful swollen gums that hurt. If your dentist diagnoses you with an abscess, they may also recommend treatment. A root canal procedure is often required.

10. Dentures and partial dentures

Dentures and partial dentures that don’t fit properly irritate the gums. That constant irritation can lead to tissue damage and gum disease.

You can work with your dentist to adjust the fit of your dentures or partial dentures and eliminate gum pain.

11. Vitamin deficiency

Good oral health is supported by proper nutrition, which includes getting enough vitamin B and vitamin C.

Vitamin deficiencies can lead to a number of conditions, such as scurvy, that can cause inflammation and pain in the gums, along with other symptoms.

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet that meets the recommended daily requirements for vitamins and minerals can treat vitamin deficiency.

12. Oral cancer

Usually appears as a sore that refuses to heal, oral cancer can appear on the gums, inner cheek, tongue, and even tonsils.

If you have a mouth sore that doesn’t heal after two weeks, visit your dentist for a diagnosis.

Cancer treatment often involves surgery to remove cancer cells or tumors, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Symptoms of sore gums

Early symptoms

The initial symptoms of gum disease can include:

  • Red and swollen gums.
  • Gum bleeding after brushing or flossing.

This stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.

Advanced symptoms

If gingivitis is not treated, the tissues and bone that support the teeth can also be affected. This is known as periodontitis or periodontal disease.

Symptoms of periodontitis can include:

  • Bad breath ( halitosis ).
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth.
  • Loose teeth that can make eating difficult.
  • Gum abscesses (collections of pus that develop under the gums or teeth).

Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis

In rare cases, a condition called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) can develop suddenly.

The symptoms of ANUG are usually more severe than those of gum disease and can include:

  • Bleeding, sore gums
  • Painful ulcers
  • Gums receding between your teeth.
  • Bad breath.
  • A metallic taste in your mouth.
  • Excess saliva in the mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking.
  • High temperature (fever).

Prevention and treatment of gum disease

Mild cases of gum disease can usually be treated by maintaining a good level of oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. You should also make sure you attend regular dental check-ups.

In most cases, your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to thoroughly clean your teeth and remove any hardened plaque (tartar). They will also be able to show you how to effectively clean your teeth to help prevent plaque from forming in the future.

If you have severe gum disease, you will usually need additional medical and dental treatment, and in some cases, surgery may be required. This will usually be done by a specialist in gum problems (periodontics).

Dental check-ups

It is important to have regular dental check-ups so that any problems with your teeth and gums can be detected and treated early.

If you’ve never had gum disease and are in good oral health, you may only need to visit your dentist every one to two years for a checkup.

You may need to visit your dentist more often if you have had problems with gum disease in the past. At each appointment, your dentist will advise you when you need your next appointment.

If you are at a higher risk of developing gum problems, for example if you smoke or have diabetes, you may be advised to visit your dentist more often so that your teeth and gums can be closely monitored.

Some Simple, Homemade Ways to Soothe Painful Gums

Swollen gums can be a sign of a serious oral condition. If you are one of those people who are afraid of the dentist, you will be pleased to know that you can treat painful gums at home.

If you want to learn how you can treat painful gums at home, follow these tips:

1. Hot and cold compresses

A great and easy way to soothe sore gums is to apply compresses to the gum to ease the pain. Hot or cold compresses will.

Hot compress : heat some water, but be sure not to boil it. The water should be hot enough for you to tolerate it.

Grab a clean cloth and dip it in the water, squeeze out the excess water and place it on your face in the sore gum area.

Cold compress : use an ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth and apply in the same way as a hot compress.

You can alternate using both compresses until the pain and swelling subside.

2. Salt water rinses

Salt water rinses are a great home remedy to help soothe sore gums. The salt in the water prevents the growth of bacteria and helps to get rid of the one that is already growing in the mouth.

Start by heating a cup of water, make sure it is not boiling, and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Shake the salt water in your mouth and rinse well for a few seconds, and spit into the sink.

Make sure you don’t swallow the water. Rinse your mouth with salt water at least twice a day.

3. Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide helps relieve pain and reduces inflammation of the gums. Hydrogen peroxide is a great agent for killing germs and fighting many other oral problems.

To start, mix equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide. Shake the peroxide solution in your mouth for about 20 seconds, spit into the sink, and rinse your mouth with warm water.

Another way to use hydrogen peroxide is to make a paste out of baking soda. Apply the paste in your mouth, wait a minute, and then rinse.

4. Tea bags

Steep a tea bag in boiling water for at least 5 minutes, as if you were making tea. Let the tea bag cool for a few minutes, so that it does not heat up and apply on the affected gums.

No tea will work for you, try to choose a tea that has astringent properties, such as green tea, black tea, or hibiscus tea. You can also choose a tea rich in anti-inflammatory properties like chamomile and ginger.

Tea bags are a great way to soothe sore gums.

5. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is known for its natural anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. It is perfect for helping with your painful gums and other oral ailments.

To use, drop a few drops of tea tree oil in a glass of water and use it as a regular mouthwash.

You can also try getting a toothpaste that contains tea tree oil for a little extra help.

6. Turmeric paste

Turmeric is another natural ingredient that contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric helps reduce gum swelling, pain, and inflammation.

You will need to make a paste with 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and mix it with a little water until it becomes a paste.

Apply to the affected gums and leave for 5 minutes. Make sure to rub it into your gums with gentle massaging movements.

Afterward, be sure to rinse off the turmeric residue with lukewarm water. Repeat the process every day for 1 to 2 weeks or until the pain goes away.

7. Over-the-counter pain relievers

If pain is getting in your way, why not try instant pain relief? Some over-the-counter pain relievers will do the trick.

You can try pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. These medications can be found at your local pharmacy.

For greater effectiveness, you can combine pain relievers with other home treatments.

8. Oral anesthesia gels

You can also use oral anesthetic gels that you can get over the counter to help with gum pain.

These gels combine natural and synthetic ingredients to help numb the gums and relieve pain.

Oral gels often use natural pain relievers such as cloves or Spilanthes, Orajel, and Anbesol are common in over-the-counter anesthetic gels.

9. Homemade dental spray

You can make a dental spray to help relieve gum pain by using essential oils as its main ingredient.

Use a new, clean spray bottle (make sure there is no other product in it) and add clean water.

You will need approximately 5 drops of the essential oils of your choice. Excellent oils to use are oregano, peppermint, and cloves; These oils have pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Spray the solution directly on your gums daily until their condition improves.

10. Improve your nutrition

The best way to help with painful and inflamed gums is to prevent it in the first place.

A great way to prevent and improve your gums is to improve your nutrition. Start by incorporating calcium, vitamin C, and folic acid into your diet.

Not having these vitamins in your diet could be one of the culprits for swollen gums.

Vitamin C can be found in a variety of foods such as:

  • Broccoli.
  • Peppers.
  • Oranges
  • Piñas.
  • Kale.
  • Kiwi.
  • Strawberries.
  • Other citrus fruits.

Getting the right amount of calcium can have many benefits for your overall oral health. Calcium is found in dairy, soy milk, tofu, sardines, cereals, and collards.

Add folic acid to your diet by eating foods like:

  • Beans.
  • Lentils.
  • Broccoli.
  • Asparagus.
  • Vegetables.
  • Green peas.
  • Avocados

Simple home remedies like salt water rinses, cold compresses, turmeric paste, tea tree oil, among others, can help soothe sore gums.

There are a number of reasons why you might have sore gums, but many can be avoided with a healthy lifestyle that includes proper oral hygiene.

If you have persistent gum pain, swelling, or sores that are left for more than a couple of weeks, make an appointment with your dentist for a full diagnosis and treatment recommendation.

Complications of gum disease

If you have untreated gum disease that turns into periodontitis, it can lead to other complications.

Some of these complications can be:

  • Gum abscesses (painful collections of pus).
  • Gums receding.
  • Loose tooth.
  • Loss of teeth


  • Pain in the gums can limit the normality of your days; Therefore, the most important thing for the care of this oral area is to maintain adequate oral hygiene, gently brushing the teeth and gums at least twice a day.
  • Lifestyle changes such as avoiding tobacco or cigarette smoking.
  • Modify your nutrition and add foods that contain vitamins, calcium, and folic acid.
  • Maintain an adequate periodicity in visits to the dental professional.