Toothache, Beautiful Woman with Tooth Infection

Why do my gums hurt?

You may have experienced toothache before, but what about gum pain? The tissue that our gums are made from can be sensitive, which means they react to all sorts of things and become red, sore and swollen. There’s usually a reason for such symptoms, so read on to find out what may be causing your gums to hurt and how to resolve the issue.

Why are my gums sore?

You’re brushing too hard or flossing incorrectly

It could be that your oral hygiene routine is actually making your gums worse and not better. One of the most common reasons for painful gums is simply that you’re brushing your teeth too hard or flossing incorrectly. The pressure can begin to irritate your gums and potentially even damage them, particularly when you’re using a stiff-bristled brush or using a floss pick that’s too large.

You have an infection

Infections, such as gum disease, are quite common, more so in people who don’t brush their teeth regularly enough. Signs of gum disease include bleeding, red or swollen gums and it’s generally caused by lack of brushing or incorrect brushing techniques. When ignored, gum disease, also known as gingivitis, can become a more severe form known as periodontitis. This can result in abscess formation or even tooth loss. However, following a strict hygiene routine can help to reverse the effects.[1]

You have a vitamin deficiency

We’re regularly reminded, especially as children, that we should eat our fruits and vegetables in order to maintain a healthy diet, but the vitamins and nourishment we get from these foods can impact our bodies in lots of ways.

Your gums may be hurting because of a vitamin deficiency, most likely B, C or K. While it’s a disease most notorious among sailors, scurvy is a condition caused by a vitamin deficiency, and this can cause sore and swollen gums. If you think you’re not getting enough vitamins in your diet, you should consider taking vitamin supplements.[2]

You’re experiencing a change in hormones

If you’re pregnant or are going through the menopause, you may notice that your gums are more sore than usual, and this is generally caused by hormonal changes. When your hormones are fluctuating as you go through puberty, more blood can flow to your gums, causing them to look red and to swell. As you go through menopause, the opposite can happen and you may find you have a very dry mouth or gums. During pregnancy, it’s common for women to experience bleeding and sore gums, particularly from months six to eight.[3]

Why do my gums hurt when I brush?

If you have sore gums, you’ll likely find the pain flares up or gets worse when you brush your teeth or floss. Don’t assume that ‘my gums are sore because I brush too hard’, though. While this could be the cause, it could also be that brushing just irritates your already sore gums and there’s another underlying problem that needs to be addressed. 

How can you find out if this is the case? Well, aside from watching out for other symptoms of the issues we’ve discussed above, the simplest way is to use trial and error. There are lots of things you can change about your day-to-day life to try and reduce pain in the gums. If you suspect your brushing is the problem, follow our advice below on how to do it properly – and if that doesn’t work, you know it’s something else.

How to treat sore gums

Now that we’ve identified some of the reasons why you may have sore gums, it’s time to look at treatments so you can make the pain go away. Below, you can find just some of the ways to do this. If your pain persists, we’d recommend that you visit your dentist for a checkup.

Change how you brush your teeth

It’s common for people to brush their teeth too hard, or be aggressive when it comes to flossing. But the harder you brush doesn’t equal cleaner teeth. In fact, you could be making issues in your mouth, such as swollen or receding gums, worse for it.

To reduce gum pain and soreness, you could swap your toothbrush to a soft bristled brush or use floss picks for sensitive teeth. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure when brushing, but should lightly sweep the brush over the surface of your teeth.[4]

Keep a balanced diet

To avoid any vitamin deficiencies, it’s important that you maintain a balanced diet, getting enough fruit and vegetables (five a day, to be precise) to keep your vitamin C and K levels up. The best foods for a vitamin K deficiency are kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce, pumpkin and pine nuts. For a vitamin C deficiency, you should try to eat more citrus fruits, such as oranges, as well as other nutritious fruit and veg, including peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants and potatoes.[5]

Take vitamin tablets

If you aren’t able to get your daily vitamins through your diet, you may consider taking vitamin supplements, particularly through winter, when colds are rife and you’re getting less sun exposure. Not only could this resolve gum pain that is caused by a deficiency, but could improve your skin, maintain bones and cartilage, reduce your recovery time when you do come down with an illness, heal wounds faster, and more.[6]

See a dentist regularly

Dentists can catch issues early, as they get up close and personal with your oral hygiene and are professionals in all things to do with your mouth. They may be able to provide advice on how to get rid of gum soreness, refer you to a hygienist for professional teeth cleaning and plaque removal and check for any obvious issues or conditions, like gum disease.



[2] Murererehe, Julienne et al. “Beneficial Effects of Vitamin C in Maintaining Optimal Oral Health.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 8 805809. 10 Jan. 2022, doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.805809





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