Gum pain relief and causes: how to treat painful gums?

Gum pain can manifest in different ways. Some people experience gum pain in a single area of the gums, while others suffer from gum pain throughout their mouths. If you don’t take good care of your gums, they can deteriorate, become inflamed, infected, cut or even suffer from disease.

While there are many causes for tooth and gum pain, the treatment for most causes is pretty standard. Implementing an effective oral hygiene routine will most often help improve the health of your gums.

Gum pain causes

If you experience painful gums when you eat, drink, brush, or floss, you may be wondering what’s causing it and how you can treat it. Painful or bleeding gums can be caused by improper brushing or flossing techniques, gum disease, chemotherapy, tobacco use, or certain hormonal changes. It is very common for gum disease to lead to pain and bleeding, so resolving the problem is an important part of keeping your gums healthy. Your gums provide the overall support for your teeth and the basis of a healthy mouth, and if not properly cared for, early gum disease can progress to other serious oral health problems.

Below are several different causes of gum pain. Being familiar with these causes of gum pain can help you talk to your dental or medical professional when they’re diagnosing the cause of your discomfort.

  • Canker Sores:These are painful ulcers found in your mouth that can cause serious gum pain. Canker sores can be caused by stress or injury to the tissue in your mouth, or an underlying health condition such as an impaired immune system, nutritional deficiencies, or gastrointestinal disease.
  • Cuts or Abrasions:Gum pain can often be caused by a simple cut or abrasion. Braces or other dental hardware such as dentures or retainers can irritate the tissue and cause gum pain.
  • Gum Disease or Infection:Gum pain associated with sensitive or bleeding gums is often caused by gum disease or gum infection. The mildest form of gum disease, gingivitis, affects approximately one in two American adults and can cause chronic gum pain and sensitivity. If not treated properly by removing plaque from the teeth and around the gum line, gingivitis can progress to more serious gum infection.
  • Sinus Infection:A sinus infection, otherwise known as sinusitis, occurs when the tissue lining of your sinuses is swollen or inflamed, and can lead to sinus gum pain. Sinuses are normally filled with air, but when they become filled with fluid, germs can grow and lead to infection.

If you notice any of these symptoms along with gum pain, you may want to consult with a medical professional to confirm the diagnosis and get treatment recommendations. Regardless of where your gum pain is located or its cause, chances are you’ll want to address it quickly.



Gum pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Gum symptoms that may occur along with gum pain

Gum pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the gum including:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bright red or red-purple appearance to gums
  • Gums that are tender or sensitive
  • Painful mouth sores or ulcers
  • Receding gums
  • Swollen gums

Gum pain may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

  • Bleeding
  • Loosening or loss of the teeth
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodesbeneath the jaw or along the neck
  • Tongue pain
  • Weakness, tiredness or light-headedness

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, gum pain may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have gum pain along with other serious symptoms including:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Loss of teeth

What are the potential complications of gum pain?

Because gum pain can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

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

Gum pain treatments

Medical or professional treatments for gum pain include the following.

Scaling and Root Planning

 An important goal in the treatment of gum disease is to rid the teeth and gums of pathogenic bacteria and the toxins they produce, which may become incorporated into the root surface of the teeth. dentists do this with a deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planning (or root debridement). Scaling involves removing plaque and hard deposits (calculus or tartar) from the surface of the teeth, both above and below the gum line. Root planning is the smoothing of the tooth-root surfaces, making them more difficult for bacteria to adhere to.


If a doctor suspects gum irritation and pain due to medications, they may change your prescription. Do not stop or change your medications without consulting a doctor. If a doctor suspects your gum pain is due to an underlying illness, they may prescribe medications to treat the underlying cause.

As gum disease progresses, periodontal pockets and bone loss can result in the formation of tiny, hard to reach areas that are difficult to clean with handheld instruments. Sometimes it’s best to try to disinfect these relatively inaccessible places with a prescription antimicrobial rinse (usually containing chlorhexidine), or even a topical antibiotic (such as tetracycline or doxycyline) applied directly to the affected areas. These are used only on a short-term basis, because dentists don’t want to suppress beneficial types of oral bacteria.

Bite Adjustment

 If some of your teeth are loose, dentists may want to protect them from the stresses of biting and chewing — particularly if you have teeth-grinding or clenching habits. For example, dentists may carefully reshape minute amounts of tooth surface enamel to change the way upper and lower teeth contact each other, thus lessening the force, reducing their mobility. dentists also might join your teeth together with a small metal or plastic brace so that they can support each other, and/or make you a bite guard to wear when you are most likely to grind or clench you teeth.

Drainage or tissue removal

 If a mouth infection is causing gum pain, a doctor or dentist may need to drain the infection with a needle or remove infected tissue from the area.

Tooth removal

 In some cases, infected teeth need to be removed by a doctor or dentist.

Oral hygiene

Oral hygiene

Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes using a manual or electric toothbrush with a small head and soft, rounded bristles. Use a Toothpaste, which physically removes the build of plaque bacteria along the gum line, helping to keep the seal between your gums and teeth tight. When used to brush twice daily it is 4x more effective* than a regular toothpaste at removing the main cause of bleeding gums.

Use Dental Floss to remove plaque from hard to reach areas between your teeth. Remember to ease the floss gently into place as otherwise you could harm your gums.

Regular dental visits

 Regular visits to a dentist for hygiene are important for prevention of gingivitis, plaque buildup, and dental infections.

Simple Ways to Relieve Painful Gums

If you want to learn how you can treat painful gums at home. Read on to get started.

Smoking cessation

Smoking cessation

Smoking tobacco can contribute to plaque buildup and dental infections.

Warm and Cold Compresses

A great and easy way to relieve painful gums is by applying compresses on your gum to relieve your pain. Either hot or cold compresses will do.

  • Hot Compress: Heat up some water but make sure you don’t bring it up to a boil. The water should be hot enough for you to tolerate it. Grab a clean cloth and soak it in the water, squeeze off the excess water, and place it on your face in the area of the gum pain.
  • Cold Compress: Use an ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth and apply the same way as a hot compress. You can alternate the use of both compresses until the pain and swelling go down.

Salt Water Rinses

Salt Water Rinses

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

Start by warming a cup of water, make sure is not boiling, and add 1 tsp of salt to it. Swish the salt water in your mouth and rinse well for a few seconds, and spit out into the sink. Make sure you don’t swallow the water. Rinse your mouth with the salt water at least twice a day.

Massage your gums

Massage your gums

 Massaging your gums may provide some relief. To massage your gums, use a clean finger and gently make a circular motion on top of the sore gum and as much at the sides as you can. Rub clockwise for 15 rotations, then counter-clockwise for an additional 15 rotations. Do not massage vigorously or press too hard. Repeat the massage at least three to four times daily. Massaging your gums can help with sore gums from wisdom teeth. A gum massage can help erupting wisdom teeth ease through the gums while helping to relieve some of the pain.

Tea Bags

Soak a tea bag in boiling water for at least 5 minutes, as if you were to make tea. Let the tea bag cool off for a few minutes, so it’s not burning hot and apply on the affected gums.

Not any tea will do, try to pick a tea that has astringent properties such as green tea, black tea, or hibiscus tea. You can also pick a tea rich in anti-inflammatory properties such as chamomile and ginger. Teabags are a great way to soothe painful gums.

Turmeric Paste

Turmeric Paste

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

You will need to make a paste using 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and mix it with a little water until you make a paste. Apply on your affected gums and leave on for 5 minutes. Make sure you rub it on your gums using gentle massage motions. After, ensure you rinse the turmeric residue with warm water. Repeat the process every day for 1 to 2 weeks or until the pain is gone.

Over-the-Counter Pain Killers

If the 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. You can find these at your local drug store. For more effectiveness, you can combine the painkillers with other home treatments.

Improve your Nutrition

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 of swollen gums. Vitamin C can be found in a variety of foods such as broccoli, bell peppers, oranges, pineapples, kale, kiwi, and strawberries.

Getting the right amount of calcium can bring many benefits for your overall oral health. Calcium is found in dairy, soy milk, tofu, sardines, cereals, and collard greens. Add folic acid to your diet by eating beans, lentils, broccoli, asparagus, greens, peas, and avocados.