Fact Checked

How to Treat Sore Gums

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

June 27, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

When you mention dental health, the first thing that comes to mind is preventing cavities. However, it is very important to pay attention to not just your teeth but also your gums. 

Your gums play a pivotal role in your oral health as well as your overall well-being. 

So, what exactly are sore gums, and what causes them? Read on to learn all you need to know about sore gums, how to prevent swollen gums and how to care for them by the guidelines recommended by the American Dental Association.

If your gums feel sore and are bleeding, it can be rather uncomfortable and unsettling.

While bleeding gums must not be ignored, there is no reason to panic if you have swollen gums. 

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What causes sore gums?

Sore gums may be a sign of early gum disease. Symptoms include gum pain, receding gums, bad breath, or swollen gums.

Gum disease is caused due to plaque that is left unattended and allowed to accumulate and harden on the teeth surface leading to gum inflammation. This hardened plaque is a breeding site for bacteria and can exacerbate the tissue surrounding the gums.

This may cause your gums to feel sore and bleed. 

Common causes of swollen gums:

Poor oral hygiene. The American Dental Association cites poor oral hygiene as the number one reason behind sore gums. Improper flossing, brushing way too hard, infections, weak immunity, and gum disease may also cause sore gums.

Hormones. Other possible causes that can lead to sore gums include hormonal changes such as pregnancy. These changes can cause tooth decay, inflamed gums, canker sores, cancer, and blood disorders. Other causes include poorly fitting dentures or infection.

Medication. Certain medications can cause your gums to bleed and get sore by reducing the blood’s ability to clot naturally. Some medications also cause dry mouth, this is bad for the mouth since saliva protects and cleans your teeth and gums.

Changes in your dental care routine. A change in your oral care routine may also lead to bleeding and soreness in the gums and may lead to canker sores. For instance, if you use a soft-bristled brush and change over to a hard-bristled brand; this can cause soreness and irritation in the gums. Also, aggressive brushing or a change in toothpaste may also cause sore gums or gum pain.

Nutritional deficiencies. A weak immune system, lack of vitamin C or K, and not eating a well-balanced diet, may also cause sore gums. Visit your dentist to find the root cause and a solution. 

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Early Gum Disease

If your gums feel sore, it is important to see a dental professional immediately. You may need professional cleaning. When diagnosed in the early stages, gum disease can be treated, but as it progresses it can be hard to reverse.

Left untreated gingivitis, an early form of gum disease can progress into advanced gum disease called periodontitis. This can lead to tooth loss, gum recession, and other health conditions.


Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. If your gums are healthy, they should be pink and firm on the gum line. Red gums, inflammation, and gums that bleed easily are signs of gingivitis.

Thankfully, this is a mild form of gum disease and may be reversed with good oral hygiene. This stage of gum infection can be easily reversed by seeking medical treatment from a reputable dentist and following a proper dental regimen.

Home Remedies for Gingivitis

Saltwater rinse

A great natural remedy for restoring gum health is a saltwater rinse. Saltwater has disinfectant properties and can help your sore gums heal faster.

Simply pour a teaspoon of Himalayan salt into a cup of water and swirl the rinse in your mouth. Do this 3 times a day for healthy gums and pain relief.

Lemongrass mouthwash

Dilute 3 drops of lemongrass oil in a cup of water and swirl it around your mouth. Lemongrass is said to help reduce plaque while also giving relief to sore and achy gums, making gums healthy.

Turmeric gel

Turmeric is a very potent home remedy that has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Turmeric gel is easily available at most health stores and can be applied to your sore gums twice a day for instant relief as well as improve gum health. 

Stages of Advanced Gum Disease


The next stage of gingivitis or gum disease is known as periodontitis. This affects the gum tissue, gum line, and teeth.

It can progress rather rapidly and deteriorate your jawbone causing you to lose teeth. Symptoms of periodontitis are receding gums, bad breath, tender gums, fungal infection, and gingival pockets with the formation of pus.

Aggressive Periodontitis

Left unattended, periodontitis can rapidly progress to the next stage – a more serious form of aggressive periodontitis. At this stage, you will experience deterioration of gingival tissue and ligaments and also bone destruction. 

Chronic Periodontitis

At this stage, you will experience inflammation of the gingival tissues of the teeth and also noticeable bone loss. This stage is characterized by gingival pockets that may be infected and gum recession. Deterioration occurs slowly. 

Systemic Periodontitis

This condition can be attributed to suffering from systemic diseases such as diabetes, respiratory disease, or heart disease. 

Necrotizing Periodontal Disease

This again is a type of gum disease observed in people suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression, or extreme malnutrition. The gingival tissue, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligaments are deprived of the nutrition they need causing pain and soreness in the oral cavity. 

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How to Soothe Sore Gums

If you are looking for quick relief from sore gums, the below-listed remedies can do the trick, as well as prevent gingivitis.

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water every 3-4 hours.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush while brushing or flossing.
  • Use painkillers such as Tylenol.
  • Use a mouth wash that contains hydrogen peroxide.
  • Apply Anbesol directly to the gums.
  • Apply a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling and inflammation. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long does it take to heal sore gums?

    The time it takes for sore gums to heal can be different for everyone. Healing time is related to cause. For most cases, such as poor oral care – sore gums may take around 10 days to completely heal.

    For more serious conditions such as a bacterial infection, you may need to see a dentist and be prescribed medication for your sore gums to heal.

    Who is at risk for sore gums?

    People who smoke, are obese, suffer from diabetes, or are pregnant are more prone to sore gums. Older people are at a higher risk of suffering from sore gums and gum disease. 

    Current studies also indicate that gum disease is influenced by heredity

    How do I prevent sore gums?

    Sore gums and bleeding gums can be prevented by following a good teeth brushing technique. In the quest to keep your teeth sparkling white, you may be brushing your teeth or flossing too vigorously. Remember that your gums are made from delicate tissue.

    Whether you fancy an electric toothbrush or are happy with a manual one, be sure to choose a brand with a soft bristle. A soft brush is a better bet than hard or medium bristled brushes if you have sensitive teeth and gums.

    A hard bristled brush is likely to not just damage the enamel on your teeth but also cause your gums to become red, sore, and swollen. Use gentle circular motions to clean your teeth and gums. Prevention is the ideal treatment.

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    It is easy to care for your teeth and gums by practicing good oral hygiene. However, if you do experience discomfort in your gums, be sure to visit a dentist for a checkup. Gum disease can be reversed in the early stages.