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Just as you feel sensitive teeth, you can feel pain and discomfort in your gums, too. You may have sore and swollen gums with pain, which can reveal serious gum disease symptoms from periodontal problems. In this situation, poor oral hygiene and accumulation of plaque on teeth can be the primary risk factors. On the other hand, your sensitive gums may be caused by aggressive brushing habits, serious soft tissue damage by dental protheses, like dentures, or even hormonal changes during menopause or pregnancy.
We need to care for our gums as we do for our teeth. Poor oral hygiene is the root of most oral problems. For example, by brushing or flossing daily, we are actually contributing to both teeth and gums’ health at the same time. An extra attention on how our gums look and feel should be important for us. Because of the importance of gums as supporters of teeth, there should be enough tooth cleaning as well as gum cleaning.
Knowing the source of your gums’ sensitivity can be challenging. If there is the presence of sore gums, it can be a sign of gingivitis that requires dentist’s treatment and examination. Left untreated, you can expect much serious form of gum conditions like periodontitis. Fortunately, there are both simple home remedies and dentists’ treatments for your sensitive gums. Learn the causes first and try treatments for your sensitive gums in order to prevent any future problems. This way, you can take necessary action for your teeth and gums health ASAP.
What causes Sensitive gums?
Below you can find the causes for sensitive gums and what may explain sore and inflamed gum conditions:
- Gum disease.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are medical terms for gum diseases. Gingivitis is the inflammation of gums with symptoms like swollen and red gums that may easily bleed. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis. Plaque buildups begin to form on teeth, host colonies of bacteria and harden into calculus (tartar) if not removed by regular toothbrushing and flossing. Periodontitis is also an inflammatory gum condition with serious damages to gum tissue and other supporting tissues of teeth, which you end up with tooth loss if goes untreated. The condition will affect gums and can appear as gum inflammation with pocket formation or even receding gums.
- Smoking and tobacco use.
Smoking cigarette or using various tobacco products are the major negative health behavior that either cause or help numerous oral diseases, such as periodontitis. A healthy mouth is followed by positive advantages for well-being and overall health.
There are major health risks that are linked to smoking including lung cancer, oral cancer and other smoking-related diseases, so why smoke when you expect this amount of damage to your health.
Keep in mind that smoking produces heat in your mouth, changes the gum tissue quality and makes your mouth vulnerable against pathogens, bacterial activity and other inhibiting species in plaque biofilm or those living in your mouth. This increases risks of inflamed and sore gum, leading to gum sensitivity and soft tissue irritations.
Psychosocial factors, like stress or anxiety, are damaging risk factors for our health. Stress impacts the responding mechanisms of immune system in the body. It reduces the resistance of gums against the infections in the mouth. Stress is specifically associated with some type of gingivitis including necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also called trench mouth.
- Hormonal changes.
Gum sensitivity is common during the hormonal changes in endocrine influences such as pregnancy, puberty, menopause cycles and other systemic effects. Sensitive gums and teeth can happen due to the increased blood flow and other bodily reactions during these situations that body goes into major changes.
- Brushing teeth hardly.
Similar to teeth, our gums can get damaged when we brush harshly and vigorously or with hard-bristled toothbrushes.
It is necessary to brush gently with a suitable toothbrush to prevent sensitive gums and irritations. In case of hardened plaque or tartar on teeth, it is advised to visit a dentist for plaque removal instead of damaging our gums and teeth by applying force during tooth cleaning. Switching to antiplaque toothpaste will also help remove plaque better.
- Irritation from dentures, braces and other oral appliances.
Oral appliance, such as dentures, braces, mouthguards or dental restorations, are inserted in our mouth for orthodontic, cosmetic or functional purposes. Therefore, cleaning, caring and maintenance of these appliances is a must. These appliances can be unfit and not your size, which cause irritations and injuries to gums and other soft tissues. You can see that after a while your gums have become sore.
If these dental appliances and your mouth is not cleaned regularly, it leads to fungal development (e.g. denture stomatitis in denture wearers) and impaction of food. Thus, it not only causes sensitive gums and bad breath but also paves the way for the beginning of tooth decay and infection in those spots in contact with these appliances.
- Oral infections and fungal development.
Poor oral hygiene, viral infections, systemic diseases, vitamin and nutritional deficiencies can all reinforce the development of fungal and higher bacterial activity in the mouth. It then leads to mouth ulcers like canker sore, and other oral problems including oral thrush. These oral conditions will leave your mouth and gums with lesions, soreness and pain.
- Vitamin C deficiency.
A healthy diet should include necessary nutrients and vitamins, and vitamin C is one of those important ones for our health. Vitamin C deficiency causes insufficient collagen synthesis, leading to gum deterioration, gum bleeding, delayed wound healing and pain. If your diet lacks fresh fruits and vegetables, you are more at risk of vitamin C deficiency.
In diabetes, you are faced with imbalance in blood glucose level and the risks are higher for gum disease problems, both gingivitis, and periodontitis. You may experience disorders in saliva quality, gum inflammation, and even disorders in how your mouth can react to dental plaque.
What are home treatments for Sensitive gums?
By some simple home tasks, you can prevent and treat your sensitive gums.
- Maintain your oral health daily.
Brush your teeth twice daily and use fluoridated toothpaste to decrease caries progress and strengthen enamel. Do not give any chance for plaque buildups to accumulate and harden to calculus on teeth. This way, you will prevent the plaque-related gingivitis as well as periodontal diseases.
- Brush gently and floss daily.
Do not brush aggressively and instead brush your teeth gently in controlled movements. Avoid abrasive toothbrushes and toothpastes and opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentler toothpaste ingredients.
You can try electric toothbrushes for a thorough cleaning and easier brushing. Floss between your teeth carefully to remove foods residue that are stuck between teeth. Remember to floss gently without excessive force. You may cause more harm and trigger irritations in your gum if not well aware of how you are flossing.
- Use antimicrobial and non-alcoholic mouthwashes.
Mouthwashes help kill bacteria and prevent bacterial growth. As an addition to regular brushing, mouthwashes will promote oral health and contribute to having healthier gums through elimination of fungal development and bacterial activity.
Swish your mouth with antiseptic/ antimicrobial mouthwashes to alleviate the pain caused by sore gums. Choose alcohol-free mouthwashes to prevent dry mouth conditions. You want more saliva flow and cleaner gums to keep your mouth free of infections.
- Use desensitizing toothpastes.
Sensitivity can be of teeth or gum origin. It can be difficult to know what is causing your sensitive gums exactly. In any way, you can use toothpaste formulated with sensitivity relief for teeth or gums. When choosing toothpaste, do not forget the key ingredients, notably fluoride, to benefit from both sensitivity relief and anticaries properties.
- Quit smoking.
By cutting cigarette and tobacco products out of your life, you will see significant improvements in both oral and general health. You will have healthier teeth and gums, and risks of gum sensitivity and infection is reduced dramatically.
- Have recommended vitamin C intake.
You should have enough vitamin C supplements in your life. Whether you are taking the vitamins form fresh fruits, vegetables or from multivitamin pills, the goal is receiving enough vitamin C.
- Know the allergens.
Sometimes gum sensitivity is due to the allergic reaction to the foods, drinks or spices you have had. Try to discover what are the irritants in your foods and avoid eating it next time.
What are dentists’ treatments for sensitive gums?
Sometimes, sensitivity in gums can be due to gum diseases and underlying conditions. You need to have your mouth checked by a dental specialist. Your dentist will screen your mouth and teeth for any sign and symptoms that has to with your sensitive gums.
Your dentist will examine gums for bleeding, soreness, gum recession, dental plaque levels, oral lesions and ulcerations, and other conditions. They may take X-rays and necessary radiographic images, and they may even take blood tests to detect the underlying cause of your gum sensitivity. This is to rule out the possibility of cysts, infection, dental abscess or diseases that may cause inflamed, sore and swollen gums.
If the sensitivity in your gums is due to ill-fitting oral appliances, your orthodontist or prosthodontist will readjust, repair or remake a newer custom-fit appliance depending on the problem.
Dentists can diagnose oral infections, such as oral thrush, during the examinations, so they can prescribe antifungal and anti-inflammatory medications.
If the gingivitis or periodontist is detected:
- Your dentist will perform strict plaque control treatments at dental office with scaling teeth, fluoride therapy, and other methods to remove plaque and tartar on teeth.
- Dentists will guide you with series of home care tasks for plaque elimination and gum improvements. They can ask you to try chlorhexidine mouthwashes or those mouthwashes with essential oil ingredients, fluoride-containing toothpaste, and saltwater rinses.
- Your dentist can also prescribe antibiotic therapies or topical medications if it is required.
- And finally, they may perform surgical operation and laser therapies for removing the affected gums. This is done after taking a biopsy of the gums tissue and knowing the problems may get worse if not treated.
Debridement and scaling of soft tissue, gum grafting, surgical excision of the infected site, and using ultrasonic instruments are common treatments. These processes require application of local or topical anesthesia. As an example, if surgical removal of the gum is needed or if the receding gum is causing sensitivity issues, the dentist or oral surgeon may perform gum grafting. In this process, they will repair the receding gum areas by taking the healthier gum tissues from other spots.