Sore Gums: Causes and Treatment

Gum inflammation can affect anyone – however, it should be taken seriously, as it can signal the onset of gum disease. Mild gum disease, or gingivitis, is fairly easy to treat in its early stages with a thorough oral hygiene routine. If it’s not treated, you run the risk of developing periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.1

Learn what to do if you have sore gums, why you might be suffering from gum problems, and how Sensodyne Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste is clinically proven to relieve tooth sensitivity and improve gum health.

What Causes Sore Gums?

Vigorous Brushing

Your sore gums could be due to something as simple as too-vigorous brushing along your gumline2 or using a toothbrush with harder bristles.

Try being gentler when brushing your teeth and switching to a soft bristled toothbrush if there are no visible problems with your gums like redness or ulcers.

Braces and Dentures

Wearing braces with wires and brackets to straighten your teeth can make it harder for you to brush and floss effectively, leading to gum irritation and soreness18. To help combat this, speak to your dentist or orthodontist about how to look after your oral health while you have braces.

Ill-fitting dentures can also lead to soreness in your mouth – visit your dentist to have them refitted if you’re suffering with soreness from your dentures.19

Gum Disease

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that causes gum irritation, redness, and bleeding when brushing your teeth.3

Gum disease is caused by plaque build-up on the teeth and gumline and can usually be treated with a strong oral hygiene routine – brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time, plus daily flossing.4

It’s important to visit your dentist when you have sore gums to find out if it could be gum disease and how you can improve your oral health before it advances to periodontitis.5

Canker Sores

Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are a type of ulcer that cause white indents in the gums or inside the mouth. They can be painful and cause problems with eating and speaking.

Most canker sores heal on their own within a week or two. If you get one that is very large, painful, or takes longer than two weeks to heal, seek medical advice.6


Hormonal changes, particularly due to changes in levels of oestrogen and progesterone, can lead to a greater risk of gum disease. This happens because oestrogen and progesterone surges cause greater blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive to irritation.7

Examples of times when someone might experience gum soreness due to hormonal changes include:

  • Puberty8
  • During a period8
  • When using hormonal birth control8
  • Pregnancy9
  • Menopause9

Dental Abscesses

Sore gums can also be a sign of a gum or tooth abscess.

A gum abscess (gingival abscess) usually forms due to damage to the gum, e.g. through food or a toothpick penetrating the gumline. A gum abscess can develop further into a periodontal abscess if not treated, and pus can spread deeper into the gum tissue and jawbone.10

A dental abscess can cause painful toothache and, due to pus infecting the tissues and jawbone around a tooth, can eventually cause tooth loss if not treated.11

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer, or mouth cancer, can occur in different parts of the mouth. Persistent gum soreness and ulcers on the gums should be investigated as they could be a symptom of mouth cancer.12

How to Treat Sore Gums

The treatment for sore gums depends on the cause. If your gum pain has persisted for a while, or you have painful, swollen gums that bleed when you brush your teeth, visit your dentist who can look into the cause and recommend an appropriate treatment. They might use dental instruments or x-rays, if necessary, to find out why your gums are irritated.13

In general, using a toothpaste designed for tooth sensitivity and gum problems can help, like Sensodyne Sensitivity & Gum, formulated to improve gum health and reduce sensitivity.

Preventing Sore Gums and Teeth

The best way to prevent sore gums and teeth is to look after your oral health.14 A good oral hygiene routine includes:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes14 with a fluoride toothpaste, such as Sensodyne Sensitivity & Gum Whitening.
  • Flossing regularly.14
  • Visiting the dentist at least once a year.14
  • Quitting smoking.15
  • Limiting your sugar intake.16
  • Limiting your alcohol consumption.17


  1. Bupa. Treatments: Gum Disease. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  2. Dentaly. Bleeding Gums Causes, Treatments, and How to Have Better Oral Care. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Gingivitis. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  4. NHS. Causes – Gum disease. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  5. NHS. Overview – Gum disease. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  6. Mayo Clinic. Canker sore. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  7. Mouth Healthy. Hormones and Dental Health: What Every Woman Needs to Know. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  8. Mouth Healthy. Hormones and Dental Health: What Every Woman Needs to Know. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  9. Mouth Healthy. Hormones and Dental Health: What Every Woman Needs to Know. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  10. Dentaly. Dental Abscess Guide: Tooth Infection Symptoms, Causes and Treatments. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  11. Dentaly. Dental Abscess Guide: Tooth Infection Symptoms, Causes and Treatments. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  12. NHS. Symptoms – Mouth cancer. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  13. NHS. Overview – Gum disease. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  14. NHS. Overview – Gum disease. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  15. NHS. Treatment – Gum disease. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  16. NHS. Sugar: the facts. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  17. NHS. Lifestyle tips for healthy teeth. Accessed 14/10/2021.
  18. Orthodontics Australia. How to get rid of puffy gums with braces. Accessed 15/10/2021.
  19. Bupa. Everything you need to know about dentures. Accessed 15/10/2021.

PM Number: PM-ZA-SENO-21-00166