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My Gums Hurt When I Brush My Teeth. What Does This Mean?

20 Oct 2022

If you experience pain in your gums while you’re brushing your teeth, it can be uncomfortable. Not only this, but it might also cause you worry. 

Swelling, irritation, and bleeding around the gums can occur for many reasons. Identifying the exact cause can involve a process of elimination; however, it’s always best to seek the professional advice of a dentist.

So, what are the common causes of pain and swelling around the gums? And what should you do in each of these situations?

Here are some of the possible reasons you’re experiencing sore gums. 

You’re Brushing Too Vigorously 

Often, the simplest explanation for painful gums turns out to be the cause. Sometimes, pain and discomfort around the gums are down to your brushing style. 

If you’re rough with your toothbrush, chances are you’ll catch your gums frequently during cleaning and irritate them. 

Try slowing down and taking a gentler approach. Not only will this reduce gum pain, but it’ll preserve the enamel of your teeth. Similarly, if you floss, take this slowly too. 

The Bristles On Your Toothbrush Are Too Hard

Your toothbrush could be the culprit behind your gum pain. When cleaning your teeth, it’s always best to use a soft toothbrush. You might expect that a harder brush is better for removing stains and plaque, but a softer one is much better for your teeth. 

You Have Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are a source of great irritation. In many cases, they can be particularly painful, especially during brushing. 

Look in the mirror at the area of your gums that feels sore. If you have an ulcer, there’ll be a small red or white circle. 

Usually, a mouth ulcer is nothing to worry about. They’re not contagious and are likely caused by a bacterial infection. Typically, a mouth ulcer goes on its own within a couple of weeks. You may want to use an antimicrobial mouthwash or a cream to help clear it up quicker. 

While your ulcer is healing, take care during brushing. Friction from your brush can cause additional irritation to the ulcer. 

If you have frequent mouth ulcers or they remain longer than two weeks, it’s best to see your dentist. 

You Have An Allergy

The pain in your gum could stem from an allergic reaction. You may have an allergy to something you’ve eaten, or even to a dental hygiene product you’re using, such as toothpaste or mouthwash. 

The best way to identify what the potential allergens are is to remove individual items from your diet or hygiene routine one by one and monitor the results. Consult with your doctor for further advice. 

You Have a Vitamin Deficiency

A lack of vitamins B and C could result in gum pain. Several conditions are associated with vitamin deficiencies, one of which is scurvy. A common symptom of scurvy is a pain in the gums. 

Getting a better mix of fruit and vegetables in your diet will improve your vitamin intake, as will taking multivitamin supplements. 

Your Dentures Are Causing Irritation

Denture wearers sometimes experience soreness around the gums if their dentures don’t fit well. 

Although your dentures may have fit well when you got them, the underlying jaw might have shrunk, affecting the stability of your false teeth. 

Speak to your dentist about the potential solutions for replacing or securing your dentures that are available to you. 

You’re a Smoker

If you smoke, this can harm your gums. Not only will smoking irritate your gums, but it’ll also increase the chances of gum disease, and it could cause oral cancer. 

Speak to your doctor for advice on quitting. 

You’ve Burnt Your Mouth

We’ve all been there — that appetising pizza was begging to be eaten straight from the oven. But as tasty as it is, it could leave a painful burn in your mouth. 

Although a burn or a scald is noticeable at the time, gradually you’ll forget it happened as the irritation subsides. But all it takes is for you to jab the burnt area with your brush while cleaning your teeth and the pain comes back with a vengeance. 

If you have a burn, go slow while brushing your teeth. Maintaining better control over your brush strokes will prevent the pain of the burn from reigniting. 

You Have An Abscess

When a tooth becomes infected, it may lead to an abscess developing. Along with an abscess comes pain and swelling in the gums. 

Abscesses need treating right away — as they could lead to further health issues. Your best option is often to have a root canal treatment. 

You’re Experiencing a Hormonal Change

Many women experience pain and discomfort in their gums at various stages of their lives. Changes in their hormones can lead to sensitivity, swelling, and bleeding in the gums. This could be most noticeable while brushing. 

These stages inclue when a girl begins puberty, during mensuration, all through pregnancy (but particularly from two to three months), and in menopause. 

You Have Gingivitis 

A common cause of pain and swelling in your gums is gingivitis. Much like tooth decay, this type of gum disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible and can clear up with good oral hygiene. 

Make an appointment with our hygienist. Professional cleaning helps remove tartar from your gumline, reducing the irritation in your gums. 

If left untreated, gingivitis will get worse. Eventually, it’ll become periodontitis. Although less common, this type of gum disease could cause tooth loss and deterioration of the jaw. 

Oral Cancer

If your gum pain doesn’t heal, or you have similar issues in other areas of your mouth, it’s always best to seek professional advice to rule out oral cancer. 

Improving Your Gum Health at Love Teeth

If you’re experiencing ongoing pain in your gums, don’t ignore it. At our Cheam, Chessington, Sutton, and Stonecot clinics, we’re always on hand to diagnose and treat your gum health issues. 

Call today to make an appointment with a dentist or hygienist and say goodbye to painful gums while you brush your teeth. 


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