Kate Brayman DDS

Why Do My Gums Hurt? – Complete Guide to Sore Gums

Everything You Need to Know About Sore Gums

When your gums hurt,  and the pain persists for more than a few days, worsens, or is accompanied by bleeding or fever, consult with Dr. Kate Brayman, who can identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include professional cleaning, medication, or other interventions depending on the underlying dental issue.

Causes of Sore Gums

Why do my gums hurt?  Painful gums or gums that hurt in one spot can be due to various reasons including:

Gum disease

Also known as Gingivitis or Periodontitis, and caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria, gum disease also causes infection and inflammation with localized pain, especially when it’s more advanced in one area. In Gingivitis, the gums can become red, swollen, and may bleed easily, sometimes causing pain. If left untreated, Gingivitis can progress to Periodontitis, where the inflammation spreads deeper, leading to the destruction of gum tissue and bone, forming pockets around the teeth. This advanced stage can cause significant pain, sensitivity, and even tooth loss. 

Abscessed tooth

An abscessed tooth occurs when bacteria invade the dental pulp, the innermost part of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels, or when the infection reaches the root tip and surrounding bone. This condition often leads to the formation of a pus-filled pocket and can cause intense, throbbing pain in the gums and the area around the affected tooth. Symptoms may include sensitivity to hot and cold, fever, swelling, and a bad taste in the mouth. Left untreated, an abscessed tooth can lead to more serious complications.

Teeth misalignment

Why do my gums hurt?

Teeth misalignment, including crooked teeth or gaps, can contribute to discomfort in the gums. Misaligned teeth can create hard-to-clean spaces,  increasing the risk of food particle accumulation and bacterial growth, potentially leading to gum infections and periodontal disease. 

Invisalign, a clear aligner system, offers a discreet and effective remedy for correcting misalignment. By gradually moving the teeth into their proper position, Invisalign enhances oral aesthetics and improves oral hygiene, reducing the risk of gum pain and infections associated with misaligned teeth.

Missing teeth 

When a tooth is missing, the exposed gums are more susceptible to injury, irritation from food particles, and bacterial infection, all of which can lead to gum pain.  Missing teeth can disrupt the distribution of your bite. The gap left by a missing tooth can cause the remaining teeth to shift, leading to misalignment and uneven stress on the gums and jawbone, further contributing to discomfort.

Replacing missing teeth promptly prevents the remaining teeth from shifting, which can lead to bite problems and difficulty in chewing. Replacing missing teeth reduces the risk of bone loss in the jaw at the site of the missing tooth and restores function and aesthetics, allowing for better speech, chewing ability, and a more confident smile. Dental implants, bridges, or dentures can effectively replace missing teeth, support oral health, and prevent gum pain and other issues. Learn more about our restorative dentistry on Long Island.

Gum Recession

When the gums recede, they pull back from the tooth, exposing the tooth’s root. This exposed root is more sensitive to temperature changes, sweet or acidic foods, and even air, leading to discomfort or pain. The loss of gum tissue also reduces the natural protection of teeth and their roots, making them more susceptible to decay, further increasing sensitivity and pain. Receding areas may become more prone to bacterial build-up, contributing to inflammation. 

Food Impaction

When food particles become lodged between your teeth and gums, they create pressure and irritate gums, leading to discomfort and pain. Over time, this trapped food promotes bacterial growth, increasing the risk of infection, which exacerbates pain. Regular brushing and flossing removes impacted food and reduces gum pain associated with food impaction.

Trauma or Injury

Trauma or injury can occur through aggressive brushing or flossing techniques, which might damage the delicate gum tissue, leading to irritation, swelling, and pain. Sharp objects like dental instruments, food particles like bone fragments, or sports-related incidents, can cause cuts or abrasions on the gums. These injuries make gums more susceptible to pain and infection. Using mouthguards during sports prevents traumatic gum injuries.

Canker sores

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow lesions that develop on the gums. They can be quite painful, especially when talking, eating, or drinking. While the exact cause of canker sores is unknown, they may be triggered by factors like stress, minor mouth injuries, acidic or spicy foods, and certain health conditions. Canker sores on the gums can lead to localized pain and discomfort until they heal.

Dental Procedures

Procedures like tooth extractions, dental implants, deep cleanings (scaling and root planing), and the placement of braces sometimes irritate or injure the gums, leading to temporary pain. The gums might become swollen, sensitive, or bleed as a response to the treatment, especially if it involves manipulation of gum tissue. Pain following dental procedures is usually temporary and part of the normal healing process. Dentists recommend pain relievers, oral hygiene practices, and sometimes antibiotics to manage discomfort and prevent infection during recovery.


Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco contain toxins that irritate and damage gum tissue, leading to inflammation, increased sensitivity, and pain. Regular tobacco use contributes to the development of gum disease, a leading cause of gum discomfort and pain. Tobacco use impairs blood flow to the gums, hindering healing, making the gums more susceptible to infections. Quitting tobacco use can significantly improve oral health and reduce gum pain.

Hormonal changes

Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, can lead to increased blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive, swollen, and prone to pain. Hormonal changes during menopause can affect the health of the gums, leading to discomfort, dryness, and pain. Maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups on Long Island manage gum sensitivity and pain associated with hormonal changes.

How to Soothe Sore Gums

How to Soothe Sore Gums

To soothe sore gums, consider these strategies:

  • Professional Dental Care: Regular cleanings, including scaling and root planing for deeper issues, help heal and prevent gum irritation. In scaling and root planing the dentist removes plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline while smoothing the tooth root to help gums reattach to the teeth. 
  • Warm Salt Water Rinses: Reduces swelling and discomfort.
  • Gentle Oral Hygiene: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss daily to avoid further irritation.
  • Antimicrobial Mouthwash: Helps decrease harmful bacteria in the mouth.
  • Cold Compresses: Apply to your cheek to numb the area and reduce swelling.
  • Avoid Irritants: Avoid tobacco and spicy or acidic foods.
  • Pain Relief: Consider over-the-counter medications for temporary relief.

When to See the Dentist for Sore Gums

If you’re experiencing pain in one spot of your gums, see  Dr. Kate Bryaman, DDS for a proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if the pain persists or is accompanied by swelling, bleeding, or fever. Prompt dental care can address the underlying cause and prevent further complications.

How to Prevent Future Gum Pain

To prevent gum pain, brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, and use an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for detecting and treating gum issues early. Eat a balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, to support gum health, and avoid tobacco products and excessive consumption of sugary and acidic foods that contribute to gum disease. Stay hydrated to promote saliva production, which naturally cleanses the mouth and gums. For persistent gum pain, schedule a visit with Dr. Brayman for optimum oral health.

Kate Brayman DDS

Dr. Kate Brayman

Long Island Dentist at Kate Brayman, DDS

Dr. Kate Brayman is a leading cosmetic dentist serving Long Island and Woodbury NY 11797. A graduate from the New York University College of Dentistry, Dr. Kate Brayman brings passion and artistry into dentistry. She is certified by the American Board of Dental Public Health. Her professional memberships include the American Dental Association, the New York State Dental Association and the New York County Dental Society.

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