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why do my gums hurt

Why Do My Gums Hurt & What To Do About It?

Do you ever find yourself asking, “Why do my gums hurt?” It’s a very common concern that most of us experience at some point in our lives.

Whether it’s a dull ache, gum swollen around one tooth or you have throbbing gums, it is both uncomfortable and worrisome – But fear not, as today’s blog will explain everything about the causes of painful gums and what you can do about these throbbing gums.

What Causes Painful Gums?

Painful gums can stem from a variety of factors, including:

  • Gum Disease (Gingivitis or Periodontitis):
    Gum disease occurs due to bacterial plaque buildup along the gumline, leading to inflammation and irritation. Gingivitis is the early stage, characterized by red, swollen gums that may bleed easily. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, leading to gum recession and potential tooth loss.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene:
    Failing to maintain oral hygiene can allow plaque and bacteria to accumulate on the teeth and gums, which can lead to inflammation, gum disease, and painful gums.
  • Dental Infections:
    Infections within the teeth, such as dental abscesses or infected root canals, can cause pain that radiates to the surrounding gums. These can occur due to untreated cavities, cracked teeth, or dental trauma.
  • Tooth Decay:
    Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that erode the enamel of the teeth. As decay progresses, it can reach the inner layers of the tooth, leading to sensitive gums and pain.
  • Hormonal Changes:
    Hormonal fluctuations can affect the blood flow to the gums, leading to inflamed and sensitive gums. This hormonal imbalance can contribute to tooth and gum pain, increasing the risk of gum diseases.
  • Trauma or Injury to the Gums:
    Accidental traumas can injure the gums, leading to pain, swelling, and potential damage to the surrounding teeth and tissues.
  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism):
    Bruxism is the habitual clenching of teeth, often during sleep. This excessive pressure can cause wear and tear on the teeth and strain the supporting structures, including the gums.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies:
    Poor diet lacking essential nutrients can weaken the immune system and compromise gum health. Nutritional deficiencies may lead to inflamed and sensitive gums, delayed wound healing, and increased risk of gum disease.

Connection Between Tooth And Gum Pain

The connection between tooth and gum pain is complex and often interrelated. When a tooth is affected by decay, infection, or trauma, it can lead to inflammation of the surrounding gum tissues. 

Similarly, gum disease, which starts as gingivitis and progresses to periodontitis, can also cause the gums to recede, exposing the sensitive roots of the teeth. This exposure can result in heightened sensitivity and discomfort in both the gums and teeth. 

Additionally, conditions such as bruxism (tooth grinding) can exacerbate gum pain by placing undue pressure on the teeth and gums, leading to irritation and inflammation. 

Understanding this connection is crucial for addressing both tooth and gum pain effectively and comprehensively.

For detailed information on tooth pain and treatments, you can visit our blogs: Kill Tooth Pain Nerve In 3 Seconds Permanently and How Long Until A Tooth Infection Kills You? 

Symptoms of Painful Gums

Recognizing the symptoms of painful gums is essential for prompt treatment. 

Common signs include:

  • Swelling and redness
  • Bleeding gums, especially during brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain or tenderness while chewing

How To Treat Painful Gums?

Treatment for gum pain depends on the underlying cause but may include:

  • Professional Dental Cleaning:
    Professional dental cleanings performed by a dentist or dental hygienist are crucial for removing plaque, tartar, and bacteria that contribute to gum inflammation and disease.
  • Antibiotics for Bacterial Infections:
    In cases where gum pain is caused by bacterial infections, antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the harmful bacteria and reduce inflammation. These antibiotics may be administered orally or topically.
  • Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing):
    For individuals with advanced gum disease, a procedure known as scaling and root planing may be recommended. This deep cleaning technique involves removing plaque and tartar from below the gumline (scaling) and smoothing the root surfaces of the teeth (root planing) to promote gum reattachment and prevent further bacterial growth.
  • Dental Procedures to Address Tooth Decay or Damage:
    If gum pain is secondary to tooth decay, damage, or infection, various dental procedures may be necessary to restore oral health. These may include dental fillings, root canal therapy, tooth extractions, or dental restorations.
  • Prescription Mouthwashes or Gels:
    Dentists may prescribe medicated mouthwashes or gels containing antibacterial or anti-inflammatory agents to help alleviate gum pain and promote healing. These topical treatments can be applied directly to the affected gums to target specific areas of inflammation or infection.

Home Remedies For Painful Gums

In addition to professional treatment, you can try these home remedies to get rid of gum pain:

  • Saltwater rinses
  • Herbal teas (such as chamomile or peppermint)
  • Cold compresses
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (like ibuprofen)
  • Proper oral hygiene practices (brushing, flossing, and using a mouthwash)

When to see a Doctor?

While home remedies can provide temporary relief, it’s essential to see a dentist if you experience:

  • Severe or persistent pain
  • Pus or discharge from the gums
  • Fever or swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Recurrent gum bleeding
  • Changes in the appearance of your gums or teeth

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do my gums hurt when I eat?

Gum pain while eating can be caused by various factors such as gum disease, tooth decay, sensitivity, or injury. It's essential to visit a dentist to diagnose the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Why does the back of my gums hurt?

Pain at the back of the gums could be due to impacted wisdom teeth, gum infections, or irritation from dental appliances. Consulting a dentist can help identify the cause and provide relief.

How long do painful gums last?

The duration of gum pain depends on its cause. It may last a few days for minor issues like irritation or longer for conditions like gum disease or tooth infection. Seeking dental care can help alleviate pain and address the underlying problem.

How to stop gum swelling?

To reduce gum swelling, try rinsing with warm salt water, applying a cold compress, and maintaining good oral hygiene. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may also help. If swelling persists or worsens, consult a dentist for further evaluation and treatment.

How to relieve painful gums?

To relieve gum pain, practice good oral hygiene, including gentle brushing and flossing. Rinse with warm salt water or an antiseptic mouthwash. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort. For persistent or severe pain, consult a dentist for professional evaluation and treatment options.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 02/16/2024

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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