Sore gums are often a symptom of poor oral health, and typically occur in teenagers and adults. There are several leading causes for sore gums, some of which include teething, impacted teeth, injuries, gum disease, oral cancer, and mouth ulcers, just to name a few; many women also experience painful and bleeding gums due to a change in hormone levels during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Various methods for preventing painful gums, such as good oral hygiene, avoiding tobacco, and eating less sugar, can help reduce any gum soreness or prevent it from occurring; however, when proper precautions are not taken to care for teeth and gums, there is a risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.
The process in which the teeth force their way through the surface of the gums is known as teething, and it typically begins around six months of age; this process is necessary and natural, but it can create very sore gums. Teething is usually completed in childhood, with the exception of wisdom teeth, which can appear in the teenage years or early twenties. Some symptoms of teething in children include biting, drooling, running a slight fever, and red or swollen gums. Offering something cold or hard to chew on, or applying a rub-on, medicated gel may help to ease symptoms; many doctors recommend giving the child pain reliever, but it is best to consult the baby's doctor before offering medication.
When a tooth is coming through the gums, it can become blocked either by another tooth or by the jaw bone; as a result, the tooth cannot erupt to the surface of the gums. Instead, it becomes stuck, or impacted below the gums, and must be extracted by a dentist to relieve the pain, and to avoid problems with proper teeth alignment. One common example of impacted teeth are wisdom teeth, which aren't usually developed until the late teenage years or early twenties. Many people do not need their wisdom teeth and are advised to have them removed because they may cause dental problems after eruption.
Soreness in the gums may occur after any type of impact to the teeth or gums with a hard object, such as furniture or the floor, during a fall or accident. These types of injuries are quite common in contact sports such as hockey or football. Mouth guards are designed to absorb the impact and reduce the chance of injury to the teeth and gums; some helmets are designed with a cage or mask over the face to help prevent the eyes, nose, and mouth from coming into contact with harmful objects.
Gingivitis and periodontitis disease are two types of gum disease, which is the leading cause of sore gums, and is most common in adults. Gingivitis is caused by an infection in the gums due to the presence of tarter on the teeth, at the gum line; the most noticeable symptom of gingivitis is sore gums that bleed when the teeth are brushed. Periodontitis, which weakens the attachment of the teeth to the bones, is often caused by an unresolved case of gingivitis. In this case, the gums can swell, bleed, and change color, and if left untreated the sufferer runs the risk of losing teeth.
Most commonly found among people who smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, cancer of the mouth can develop in non-tobacco users as well. Some of the first symptoms include sore gums, bad breath, and teeth that move; other symptoms include red or white patches in the mouth, small or large tumors, bleeding, and trouble swallowing. In many cases, the cancerous tumor is surgically removed; radiation and chemotherapy may be needed to kill cancer cells in larger tumors.
Commonly known as canker sores, mouth ulcers can cause sore gums if the canker is located on the surface of the gums, or if the gums rub against the canker due to its location. The cause of ulcers is not well-understood, but many theories exist such as nutritional deficiencies, allergic reactions, or a change in diet; it is known that for some people, emotional stress or an injury to the mouth can result in an ulcer.
How to Prevent and Reduce Painful Gums
Good oral hygiene is the first step to prevent sore gums, this includes brushing teeth and gums at least twice a day and flossing daily. Avoiding all tobacco products may reduce the risk of oral cancer. If the gums are already sore, avoiding extremely hot or cold food and beverages may help reduce the pain; some dentists will prescribe a mouth rinse to help reduce any swelling and pain in the gums. Eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water also help strengthen and protect teeth and gums.