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Understanding What Causes Sore Gums

Since childhood, the importance of good oral hygiene habits has probably been reiterated to you time and time again. Many of you may even remember your parents keeping a watchful eye and timing you as you brushed your teeth when you were younger. However, a large number of people still don’t consider their gums as important to their oral health as their pearly whites.

At The Dental Family Beaumaris, we’ve helped many patients achieve and maintain optimal gum health. Understanding what causes sore gums can help you prevent the occurrence, but also seek appropriate dental care when needed. 

Common causes of sore gums

Understanding what causes sore gums can help you prevent the occurrence, but also seek appropriate dental care when needed. There are a few common causes of sore gums that we discuss below: 

Gum disease

Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. A contributing factor to gum disease is often poor dental hygiene. This can lead to a build-up of bacteria containing plaque on the gum line. Your immune system will try to fight this off by inflaming the gums which can lead to redness and discomfort. 

The initial stage of gum disease is known as Gingivitis. The early stages of gum disease may not present any signs or symptoms. However, if dental care isn’t administered it may lead to receding gums and more advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis.  

Gum disease that is ignored and left to escalate can eventually lead to jaw degeneration, tooth loss and a range of other health problems that extend beyond your mouth.

Canker sores

Canker sores can be a cause of sore gums. This common type of mouth ulcer is usually found on your gums or the inside of your lips or cheeks. Unlike cold sores, they are not contagious. Canker sores are often caused by injury to the mouth, acidic or hot spicy foods, and stress. The sores are usually surrounded by inflamed tissue and can be quite painful when eating or even talking. Occasionally, canker sores may lead to more serious symptoms developing,  including fever or swollen lymph nodes.

Most canker sores go away on their own but more persistent ones that are left untreated can take up to six weeks to heal.

An abscessed tooth

An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus that can form in parts of the tooth due to bacterial infection. The infection can spread to your ear or neck and even cause life-threatening conditions if left untreated. There are three types of tooth abscesses. A periapical abscess occurs when bacteria enter the gum through a cavity. A Periodontal abscess is usually a result of severe gum disease. A Gingival abscess occurs when a foreign body like a piece of popcorn for example gets embedded in your gums. An abscess is often accompanied by discomfort and swelling. 


The use of tobacco products increases your risk of sore gums amongst other oral health issues. Smoking can result in an increase of plaque in your mouth. It can also lead to delayed healing if your gums are or become infected. This is due to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream caused by smoking. Quitting smoking is the best way to prevent damaging your gum tissue.

Poor nutrition

Poor nutrition can have a large effect on the health of your gums. A lack of proper nutrients in your diet can lead to an increased risk of gum disease. Maintaining a healthy, wholesome diet can help prevent issues with your teeth and gums in the future. Over-consumption of alcohol also constitutes poor nutrition and can lead to less than optimal oral health.

Other factors that may affect gum soreness

There are a variety of other factors that lead to sore gums that cannot necessarily be controlled by oral hygiene. Some of the following factors have been known to cause gum soreness: 

  • Certain medications
  • A weakened immune system due to a medical condition
  • Tooth loss
  • Stress
  • Trauma to the mouth and gums
  • Dental or orthodontic procedures
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy

Related: Why Do My Gums Hurt: Understanding the Basics

Signs of unhappy gums to look out for

It’s not uncommon to experience sore gums, though many choose to just live with the pain instead of seeking dental care. If you notice any of the warning signs of unhappy gums that we list below, it’s important to make a dental check-up appointment: 

  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Sensitivity when brushing or chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Receding gum lines
  • Bad breath

Tips for preventing sore gums

If you’re careful, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime and there are many ways to keep this in check.

Brush twice a day, and don’t forget your tongue too! You should also use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Using fluoride toothpaste and therapeutic mouthwash can also help chase off those nasty sore gums. Flossing at least once a day helps to remove the bacteria and food debris beyond the reach of your toothbrush. 

Having regular dental check ups and teeth cleanings can help ensure your gums stay healthy. 

If there aren’t enough reasons to quit smoking, gum health is certainly one of them. Getting rid of tobacco will make it easier to fight off gum problems. Reduction in alcohol use and healthy eating is also vital in aiding gum health. 

The Dental Family Beaumaris is here to help

We, at The Dental Family Beaumaris, are dedicated to our patients’ oral health and are happy to provide you with the dental care and advice you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you’re concerned about sore gums, contact us to book an appointment. 

The Dental Family Beaumaris