What Is the Cause of Your Sensitive Gums?

Unfortunately, most people, at some point in their lives, will experience sore or overly sensitive gums. This is because it is often caused by things that aren’t directly related to your oral health. Sometimes, a little soreness is just part of life, and it will eventually go away on its own.

However – and that’s a big however – there are also times when the soreness in your gums could actually be a symptom of a more serious dental health problem. In these cases, it’s something that we will want to treat immediately.

Possible Causes

Everything from poor dental hygiene to normal biological changes may cause your gums to feel sore and sensitive. Some of the most common causes include:

Overenthusiasm – If you’re brushing too hard, flossing with a poor technique, or using a brush that is too hard, you may notice the soreness gradually building up.

Irritations – A lot of things in the world can simply irritate the heck out of you. Certain foods and drinks, a reaction to prescription drugs, improperly fitted mouthguards, and more, could all potentially cause problems.

Hormone changes – Some women experience swollen, painful gums during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. This is often because the rise in hormones during these times can increase the blood flow to the gums. It usually goes away on its own relatively quickly.

Vitamin K deficiency – Bleeding gums are sometimes symptomatic of vitamin K deficiency.

Teeth whitening solutions – The products that make your teeth sparkly white could also cause sore gums. These whiteners contain high oxidant properties, which some people are more sensitive to than others. Either way, it’s just a temporary discomfort.

Canker sores – A canker sore can develop anywhere in the mouth, and some people are prone to developing several at the same time. It’s suspected that they’re the result of either bacterial or vial issues, but researchers aren’t exactly sure. They’re not contagious, though they often come back over time.

Chemotherapy – Chemo often leads to a number of unpleasant side effects, and many people who are undergoing these treatments experience swollen, painful, and bleeding gums.

Smoking – Tobacco is very damaging to your gums, so this habit may be making them feel extra sensitive, and could even lead to bleeding.

What to Watch For

When your gums are sensitive to the touch, especially to the touch of a toothbrush, you may be in the first stages of gingivitis. They will look red and swollen, and you will likely be able to feel it how badly they’re swollen with your tongue. Healthier gums should be more of a pinkish color, should fit perfectly around your teeth, and shouldn’t bleed at the merest touch of a toothbrush.


If you see red or white spots appear with the pain, it could be because of the irritations mentioned above, but if those spots linger for a couple weeks, it could be signs of oral cancers, and you need to get them checked immediately.

When to Be Concerned

If you noticed that your gums are a little red and sore, it might be one of the above problems that will simple go away. But there’s also a chance that you might be looking at some gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. If this is the case, you want to take action before it turns into full-fledged periodontal disease.

Gingivitis happens when your let some of those good oral hygiene habits slide. A sticky film of plaque builds up, filled with bacteria, and releases acids that attack the teeth. If this isn’t removed, it forms tartar, which will then irritate and inflame your gums, causing gingivitis. When you notice these symptoms, it’s time to take action.

What to Do About It

Gingivitis is reversible. While it’s uncomfortable, and a sign of potential problems down the road, it and most of the issues that cause gum sensitivity can be prevented or treated.

Start by getting on the ball with your regular oral hygiene routines. Make sure you’re brushing and flossing like you should, and use some mouthwash as well (as long as it’s labels as good for antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-gingivitis).

You’ll also want to get in here for your next appointment so we can provide a professional cleaning and get rid of any tartar buildup.

You might also start to change your diet a bit and remove some of the sugary and starchy foods which tend to fuel the bacteria in your mouth. If you are a smoker, this is another reason to quit. You may even plan ahead and simply avoid extremely hot or seriously cold beverages while you’re feeling sensitive.

If, after all that, the problem persists, be sure you give us a call immediately.