Why Do My Gums Hurt All Of A Sudden?—Causes And Treatment

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Gums are fleshy and soft tissue that support and protect your teeth. Painful gums are a common problem caused by a wide range of conditions. Gum pain can significantly affect your quality of life, ranging from minor soreness to severe and excruciating pain.

Sudden gum pain may indicate irritation, injury, or infection. Causes for gum pain include poor brushing technique, gingivitis, and canker sores. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, but home remedies like salt water rinses may help ease mild gum soreness.

Although gum pain is often a temporary symptom, you may require dental treatment to prevent further health complications. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing once. Read on to learn more about the causes and remedies for sudden gum pain.

What are the Possible Causes of Sudden Gum Sensitivity?

Asian young woman with teeth hurt at home

Gum sensitivity is a common problem experienced by many, making routine habits like brushing or eating a painful experience.  

Sensitive gums may cause soreness when brushing or flossing your teeth. The pain may gradually reduce or persist, accompanied by symptoms such as gum redness, bleeding, or bad breath.

Brushing too hard may cause gum sensitivity during or after your dental hygiene care. Sensitivity may also be due to dental appliances like braces or dentures. Other causes of sensitive gums include:

Gum Disease or Periodontitis

Gum disease is the inflammation of the gum tissue that helps keep teeth in place. The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene creates a suitable environment for the proliferation of bacteria, which causes plaque buildup.

The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis causes gum inflammation and is characterized by swollen gums that bleed easily. Without proper care, this issue can develop into more server periodontitis.

Periodontitis happens when plaque accumulation spreads below the gum line, affecting the tissue and bones that support the teeth. This severe gum disease may lead to tooth loss.

Scurvy or Vitamin C Deficiency

Scurvy or severe vitamin C deficiency happens when your vitamin C intake is inadequate or the body has trouble absorbing the vitamin.

Signs of vitamin C deficiency include gum pain, swelling, and bleeding. Scurvy may also cause fatigue, joint pain, and irritability.

Hormonal Changes

Gum pain because of hormonal fluctuations may happen during different phases of a woman‘s life, including pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, and menopause.

Since hormonal shifts often increase blood flow to the gums, gums can become more sore and sensitive.

Smoking Cigarettes

Lung cancer and stroke aren‘t the only deadly outcomes linked to smoking. Tobacco use can cause gum sensitivity because it damages gums and increases the risk of gum disease.


Uncontrolled diabetes can also affect oral health. Too much glucose in saliva contributes to the growth of bacteria and plaque and germs. Gum disease can develop if the plaque is not cleared during daily dental care.

Oral infections

Oral infections like mouth ulcers, canker sores, thrush, and herpes irritate your gums and cause sensitivity. Canker sores have many potential causes, like stress, dietary deficiencies, and autoimmune diseases.


Excessive stress increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Prolonged high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream may cause inflammation in your gums.

Remedies for Sore Gums

Woman rinsing mouth with mouthwash

Gum soreness treatments vary widely depending on the underlying cause. Below are some simple home remedies for sore gums:

  • Rinse your mouth frequently with warm salt water.
  • Improve your oral hygiene.
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as acetaminophen.
  • Use antiseptic mouthwashes.
  • Increase your Vitamin C intake.

You can also try quitting smoking and practicing stress management to heal your gums.

When Should You See a Dentist?

If gum pain or sensitivity persists or worsens despite lifestyle adjustments, you should see a dentist immediately because you may have an infection or gum disease.

Dentists may recommend simple treatments or corrective procedures to relieve your pain. Deep dental cleanings help remove plaque and tartar if you have early or advanced gum disease.

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