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Why Do My Gums Hurt When I Brush My Teeth?

Brushing your teeth is a vital part of good dental hygiene, but painful gums can make it harder to maintain it.

Every dentist will tell you that the key to preventing dental diseases and complications is to floss and brush your teeth at least twice a day. But what if doing so causes your gums to bleed or is just plain painful?

It’s not normal to experience any sort of discomfort while brushing your teeth. If you find yourself flinching during your daily routine, it’s time to look into the root of the problem. 

Possible Causes of Gum Pain

A variety of factors can cause gum pain. While some can be easily managed and treated at home, others may require a visit to the dentist’s office.

Brushing Incorrectly: Believe it or not, there is a wrong way to brush your teeth. Brushing too vigorously in a back-and-forth motion can cause the soft tissues of the gums to become irritated and swollen — especially if you’re using a hard-bristled toothbrush.

Gum Disease: Not brushing or flossing your teeth enough can lead to the build-up of plaque on your teeth and along the gum line. This bacteria-filled film can seep deep into gum tissue and progress into an infection, causing redness and inflammation.

Canker Sores (Aphthous Ulcers): These small oral wounds make the tissues of the mouth more sensitive and vulnerable to pain when touched. Often white with a red outline, they are relatively easy to spot.

Hormones: From puberty to menopause, an influx of hormones can bring increased blood flow to the gums, leading to swelling and soreness.

An Imbalanced Diet: Consuming too much acidic foods and beverages (like soft drinks, citrus fruits, and coffee) can slowly wear down the soft tissues in the mouth to where they begin to ache. A deficiency in vitamin B or C (which support healthy tissues and teeth, respectively) can also heighten sensitivity and pain.

Dental Instruments: If not fitted properly, braces, dentures, retainers, and other oral devices used to encourage and support dental structure can grind against the gums and inner cheek repetitively, irritating them.

Chemotherapy: An unfortunate side effect of chemotherapy is soreness and swelling of the gums, as the radiation used impacts both malignant and benign tissues.

Tobacco: Over time, tobacco drastically diminishes the health of your teeth and oral tissues. It can also ultimately lead to oral cancer.

Abscessed Tooth: Like gum disease, an abscessed tooth is frequently the result of poor dental hygiene and accidental injury. Pus collects near the root of a tooth due to bacterial infection, inevitably leading to uncomfortable inflammation.

Stress: It’s widely known that stress can damage your body in more ways than one. Your dental health is no exception. High cortisol levels induced by anxiety can lead to an inflammatory response.

Allergies: An adverse reaction to specific foods, drinks, and even dental hygiene products can produce symptoms of swelling, redness, and sensitivity.

Burns: Consuming hot foods or beverages can damage oral tissues and leave a sore, stinging sensation.

How to Treat and Prevent Gum Pain

Although brushing the affected areas may prove cumbersome, it’s crucial to keep your mouth clean to prevent any infections from developing or progressing. Make sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently move it in circular motions. Floss and rinse with mouthwash to complete your cleaning routine.

Additionally, adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle. Stop all use of tobacco and avoid irritating products that trigger inflammation. For other health issues that may be contributing factors (like hormones, stress, or cancer), speak with your primary-care physician to learn what treatment options may be available to you.

If canker sores and other small lesions are the cause for concern, keep the areas clean and monitor the healing process. They should go away on their own within two weeks, but if they don’t, contact a dentist immediately to schedule an appointment. Delaying treatment allows time for an infection to worsen.

(09/25/2023)
by Espire Dental

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