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What Causes Gum Pain, and How to Stop It
by lawrence fung, DDS, friendly guest contributor Published: March 27, 2020
about the author show less
about the author
Lawrence Fung is a dentist, entrepreneur, and one of our expert contributors here on the hello blog. After earning his DDS at the University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry, Lawrence served as a General Dentist in the US Navy for four years. Since then, he’s mixed his dental credentials with his love for startups by founding SiliconBeach.Dental, a new breed of dental clinic in LA that leverages tech to make high-quality care more accessible and friendlier than ever before. When he’s not challenging the dental status quo, Lawrence reps his beloved Trojans, crushes hotdog-eating contests, and loves yodeling.
Photo: putting hello toothpaste on hello toothbrush
The gums (or, more fancily: “gingivae”) are often underappreciated. Teeth get most of the praise and attention – but the truth is they wouldn’t be nothin’ without their faithful soft-tissue support system. So while your gums may get fewer headlines than your teeth, keeping them happy is no less important for maintaining good overall oral health. The best way to take care of your gums is to remain proactive – and if you are experiencing pain, take it seriously and consider consulting with your dentist. But enough flapping our gums; let’s dig into the most common causes of gum pain and the oral care habits that may help you stay in the clear.
Common Causes of Gum Pain
- Brushing too hard: There’s enthusiasm and then there’s recklessness. If you’re prone to brushing with excessive force, your gums might end up irritated and painful. Research shows that light pressure and just 2 minutes of brushing time are adequate for cleaning purposes. So stick to that formula, capiche?
- Canker sores: Canker sores may show up on your gums from time to time (as well as elsewhere in your mouth). They generally appear in the form of red and/or white splotches (v. cute, right?). While they’re a nuisance, canker sores usually go away by themselves within one or two weeks, but if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call up your dentist.
- Retainers/braces: “Dental appliances” can be real handy for correcting tooth alignment and preventing mouth damage during celebrity boxing tournaments. But they can also annoy your sensitive gum tissue – particularly if they’re fitting too loose or too tight. If you’re having issues with your headgear, check in with a dental professional to make sure everything is well-calibrated.
- Gingivitis: Irritation, inflammation, bleeding, and redness, oh my! The good(ish) news is that gingivitis is fairly common and typically *only* a mild form of gum disease. But it’s still something you absolutely want to avoid – particularly because it can worsen over time and lead to more serious gum issues. Prevention (in the form of good oral habits) is your friend here. You should ask your dentist if you have any concerns about gingivitis and related symptoms.
So, How Do You Stop Gum Pain?
You can lower your risk of gum pain with just a handful of tools. First, be sure to use a soft bristle brush. It’s just as effective as one with medium or hard bristles. And it’ll help prevent you from brushing in a way that irritates your gums or pushes them too far up the surface of your teeth (gum recession = bad). If your teeth and gums experience sensitivity issues even with soft bristles, consider also adding a sensitivity relief toothpaste into the equation. And while it may actually cause a little swollen gum pain when you first start doing it, flossing is an excellent way to protect against gingivitis and keep your gums pain-free in the long run.
Here at hello, we’ve developed brushes, pastes, flosses and mouthwashes aimed at keeping your gums in tip-top shape. But if you’re doing all the right things and still experiencing gum pain, it’s time to call in the big gums – er – guns. Book an appointment with your local dental professional and tell ‘em we sent ya.