ums are perhaps the most overlooked aspect in almost everyone’s oral care routine, but maintaining healthy gums is extremely important. Gum tissue forms a protective layer around each of your teeth, making it your first line of defense against bacteria and infection. Unfortunately, the pink tissue protecting those pearly whites can be surprisingly delicate.
If you have sensitive gums, you might notice soreness whenever you brush or floss your teeth. The pain may gradually subside or linger. Sometimes, sensitive gums are accompanied by:
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between tooth sensitivity and gum sensitivity. Depending on the location of your pain, you may have difficulty determining whether the problem comes from your gums or teeth.
If you have tooth sensitivity, however, you may also have pain when eating and drinking cold or hot items. The underlying causes of tooth sensitivity can include:
Brushing and flossing too hard can sometimes cause gum sensitivity. In this case, you might notice soreness during or after caring for your teeth.
Other times, sensitivity is due to dentures or braces. This type of soreness may be temporary. It may resolve once your mouth adjusts to the dental application.
But these aren’t the only possible causes of sensitive gums. The underlying issue can be another problem or condition, including those not related to oral hygiene. Here are some other causes of gum sensitivity:
Gum disease is inflammation in the gums. It affects the tissue that holds teeth in place. Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease. It occurs when plaque accumulates on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. Symptoms include painful and swollen gums that may bleed easily. If not treated, this condition can advance to periodontitis.
Periodontitis occurs when plaque spreads below the gum line. This triggers a strong inflammatory response in the tissue supporting the teeth and bones. In severe cases, it could result in tooth loss if the gums separate from the teeth.
Scurvy is a severe vitamin C deficiency. It occurs when you don’t get enough vitamin C from your diet, or when your body has difficulty absorbing the vitamin.
Symptoms of a deficiency include sore, swollen, and bleeding gums. You may also experience irritability, fatigue, joint pain, and skin bruising.
Smoking doesn’t only increase the risk for lung cancer and stroke. Tobacco can also damage your gums and lead to gum disease, triggering gum sensitivity.
Uncontrolled diabetes can also affect oral health because too much glucose (sugar) in your saliva contributes to the growth of plaque and bacteria in the mouth. If plaque isn’t removed, gum disease may develop.
Hormonal changes can also result in gum sensitivity. This can occur during pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, and menopause. Hormonal fluctuations can cause increased blood flow to the gums, making them more tender and sensitive.
Canker sores, mouth ulcers, and oral infections can also irritate your gums, causing soreness. Causes of canker sores include:
Too much stress can lead to an elevated cortisol level. This is a stress hormone. A high level of cortisol over a prolonged period causes inflammation in different parts of the body, including your gums.
Treatment for gum sensitivity depends on the underlying cause. Sometimes, you can treat sensitivity at home. Other times, you’ll need to see your dentist.
See a dentist if soreness or sensitivity doesn’t improve or worsens despite changing your habits. This could be a sign of an infection or gum disease.
If you have early or advanced gum disease, you’ll need a deep-cleaning dental procedure to remove plaque and tartar and reverse sensitivity.
Sometimes, sensitivity or bleeding is a sign of an autoimmune disease, leukemia, or a blood disorder.
You’ll need additional testing if your doctor suspects an underlying medical condition. This may include blood tests and imaging tests to check for widespread inflammation or the possibility of cancerous cells. Until you receive a diagnosis, your dentist may offer triamcinolone (Kenalog). This is a prescription-strength, oral anti-inflammatory medication.
When dentures or braces cause gum pain, your dentist may prescribe or recommend over-the-counter anesthetics containing topical benzocaine. Don’t give any medications containing benzocaine to infants, however.
Some over-the-counter anesthetics include:
Your dentist can also prescribe an oral antifungal medication or an oral antibiotic if you have thrush or an infection that affects the gums.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today
Dr. Seif received an award in Aesthetic Dentistry and an Advanced Standing Achievement Certificate and held a position as a part-time clinical instructor.
Dr. Seif has more than 15 years of experience as a dentist and has obtained two dental degrees. Dr. Seif earned his first degree in dentistry in Syria in 1998 and practiced general dentistry until coming to the US to advance his education by earning a second dental degree from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, a world-renown dental institute. While at Loma Linda, Dr. Seif received an award in Aesthetic Dentistry and an Advanced Standing Achievement Certificate and held a position as a part-time clinical instructor.
Dr. Seif’s compassion and friendly nature is evident to his patients. He believes that every individual should be treated in a kind, caring and respectful manner. Dr. Seif is dedicated to life-long learning and enjoys participating in post-graduate courses that enable him to provide his patients and community with the excellent dental care he believes every person deserves.
Moving from the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2014, Dr. Seif now calls Baytown his home. Along with cooking, friends, family and his dog, Sophie, he enjoys southern culture. He is enthralled by the friendliness and hospitality he finds in Texas, saying, “This is exactly the kind of community I want to live and practice in!”