Sore Gums: Causes, Treatment and Home Remedies

Sore gums can be very uncomfortable. While it goes away spontaneously most times, it can also be a sign of early gum disease.

Causes Of Sore Gums

1. Improper Brushing Technique

Brushing too hard or using a hard textured toothbrush can cause sore gums. This is noticed during or after brushing. Also, brushing using a back and forth motion can cause gum irritation.

2. Dental Appliances

Sore gums due to dental appliances like dentures or braces may be temporary. It usually resolves once your mouth adjusts to the appliance.


3. Cuts

Sore gums can be as a result of a cut. The cut may be due to a sharp edge on a dental appliance, fishbone or any sharp food that can easily prick the gum.

4. Allergic Reaction To Dental Hygiene Products

Allergic reactions to the ingredients in some kinds of toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral hygiene products can cause sore gums.

5. Food Allergy

Sore gums might be due to an allergic reaction to certain foods. An example of such foods is peanuts.

6. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. It is caused by poor oral hygiene and affects the supporting tissues that hold the teeth in place. Other causes are smoking and uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.

The symptoms are painful and swollen gums that bleed easily.


7. Vitamin C Deficiency (Scurvy)

Scurvy is a disease that results from vitamin C deficiency. It occurs when you don’t get enough vitamin C from your diet, or when your body has difficulty absorbing the vitamin. Symptoms include sore, swollen, and bleeding gums.

8. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes occur during pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, and menopause. Fluctuations in the hormonal levels during these periods can cause increased blood flow to the gums, making them very sore and sensitive.

9. Canker Sores

Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, are painful noncontagious sores that appear on the gums and sometimes, on the tongue and lip. They are red but can also have a white coating. These sores can irritate your gums causing soreness and are often caused by vitamin deficiencies, stress, autoimmune diseases, and acidic foods.

10. Mouth infections

Infections in the mouth like oral thrush and herpes can cause the gums to be sore.

11. Stress

If you are under a lot of stress, the hormone that controls stress, called cortisol, becomes elevated. High levels of cortisol over a prolonged period causes inflammation in different parts of the body, including the gums.


12. Burns

Burns on the gums from hot foods like pizza or coffee can cause your gums to be sore.

13. Abscessed tooth

An infected tooth can form an abscess (pus collection) and this can result in your gums being swollen and sore.

14. Oral Cancer

Cancer of the mouth usually shows up like a sore that refuses to heal. It can appear on the gums, inner cheek, tongue, and even the tonsils. If you have a sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal after two weeks, contact your dentist immediately.

When Should I See My Dentist?

Sore gums may be mild and resolve after a week but if it hurts for more than a week, you should see your dentist.

Your dentist will examine you to figure out the exact cause and provide adequate treatment.


The treatment for sore gums is dependent on the cause.

  • Brushing with a medium or soft-bristled toothbrush will help relieve soreness caused by a hard toothbrush. Also, proper brushing techniques such as the up and down movement and the wrist roll movement should be applied to relieve soreness caused by vigorous or improper brushing technique.
  • Sore gums as a result of an appliance usually resolve after some days when you have become used to it. Warm salt water rinse can also help to relieve the pain. If it is as a result of a sharp end on the appliance, it needs to be adjusted by your dentist to prevent more harm to your gums.
  • If the pain is due to a cut or a burn from hot food, your dentist may prescribe over the counter analgesics to relieve the pain, warm salt water rinse, and analgesic gel.
  • If you think the sore gums might be an allergic reaction to a dental hygiene product or food, try to find out which food or product is responsible for the reaction. Once you identify the product, discontinue using it.
  • An elimination diet may help you identify the exact food causing the allergy. To try this diet, stop eating a certain food for 30 days and then start eating it again to see what happens.
  • There is no specific medical recommendation for treating canker sores as they usually disappear within two weeks. If a mouth ulcer lasts for more than two weeks, see your dentist.
  • If it is due to smoking and use of other tobacco products, try to stop smoking. Your doctor can help you with a smoking cessation plan and nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Sore gums due to hormonal changes should be reviewed by your dentist. Ensure you maintain good oral hygiene practice and also visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning.
  • If caught on time, sore gums due to gingivitis can be reversed with proper oral hygiene which includes brushing and flossing twice daily and use of mouthwash. Other causes of gingivitis like uncontrolled diabetes should also be managed by a specialist.
  • Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can treat sore gums due to vitamin deficiency. If the deficiency is severe, you may need to use vitamin supplements to help restore your body’s vitamin requirements.
  • A sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal after two weeks can be a symptom of oral cancer. Ensure you visit your dentist.
  • If your dentist diagnoses an abscessed tooth as the cause of your sore gums, they’ll recommend treatment of the infected tooth. Oftentimes, a root canal is required and drainage of the abscess. If the tooth can’t be saved, your dentist would recommend an extraction.

Sore Gums Home Remedies

For quick relief for sore gums, here are some simple home remedies you can try:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.
  • Always use a medium or soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth.
  • Avoid taking hot, spicy, salty or acidic foods.
  • Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or NSAIDs can be used to relieve the soreness.

Other over the counter products you can use to treat sore gums are:

  • Mouthwashes that containing hydrogen peroxide
  • Analgesic gels that you can apply directly to the sore gums such as xylocaine gel.
  • Vitamin C supplements and fruits rich in vitamin c like oranges can also be used to promote healing.


There are a number of reasons that you might be experiencing sore gums, but most of them can be avoided by a healthy lifestyle, proper oral hygiene, and routine dental checks.

If you have persistent pain, swelling, or soreness on your gums that last longer than a week, ensure you make an appointment with your dentist for a full diagnosis and recommendation for treatment.

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