The Top 5 Causes of Sensitive Gums

Sensitive gums are a common ailment in many adults around the world. Eating hot or cold foods may cause excruciating pain, and the simple act of brushing one’s teeth may lead to bleeding and additional discomfort. There are many causes for this infliction, and the top five reasons are mentioned below. If sensitive gums are causing you pain, read about these possible causes and speak to your dentist about the right treatment for you.

1. Bad Brushing and Flossing Techniques

In an effort to maintain a healthy, attractive smile many people brush and floss overzealously. While brushing your teeth is one of the most important things you can do for oral health, over-brushing and intense flossing does more harm than good. Gums are made of delicate tissue, and because of this they can be easily damaged if you brush and floss too often and too hard.

If you think this may be where your problem lies, then take a good look at your oral hygiene regimen. In regards to brushing, you should choose a manual or electric toothbrush with soft nylon bristles. Medium and hard bristles can inflame and irritate your gums, eventually leading to gum recession. Make sure that you brush in uniform, circular motions as well. Horizontal brushing damages the gums, and is not effective at getting rid of nasty bacteria that hides beneath the gum line.

When you floss make sure you do not force the floss in between your teeth. You should move in a gentle up and down motion, and carefully follow the natural curve of each individual tooth. Forcing the floss in between your teeth can cut and irritate your gums, especially if they are already sensitive or damaged.

2. Gum Disease

Three quarters of Americans over the age of 35 have one of the various types of gum disease. Gum disease is caused when bacteria in the mouth turns into plaque that is found on the teeth, due to alack in proper oral hygiene. The bacteria then may cause your gums to turn red and swell, and in some cases bleed.

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that can be reversed by practicing proper cleaning of the teeth and gums. If left untreated, however, the gingivitis can progress and become periodontitis, a very seriously gum disease which can lead to tooth loss. There is no cure for periodontitis, but the progression can be stopped and professional teeth cleanings can help the gums reattach to the teeth.


Common signs of gum disease include loose teeth, deep pockets forming around the teeth, persistent bad breath, bleeding gums, and changes in your natural bite. Make an appointment with a dentist if you have any of these symptoms.

3. Hormonal Changes

Another common cause of sensitive gums is hormonal changes. Pregnant women, menstruating women, women taking oral birth control, and women going through menopause may all experience varying degrees of pain and bleeding in their gums.

Hormone fluctuations can increase blood volume in women, especially during pregnancy, and these result in red, swollen gums. Alternatively, women going through menopause have lower levels of hormones, and so their gums may dry out, crack, and bleed. Proper oral hygiene can help with these symptoms, but usually they will pass as the hormones regulate.

4. Canker Sores

Canker sores, commonly referred to as mouth ulcers, are also a possible cause of sore and sensitive gums. Canker sores can be incredibly painful and can develop in several places in the mouth, including the gums.

You can spot a canker sore by looking for a raised red sore with a white mound in the center. They are not considered to be contagious, but doctors are not completely sure what causes them, so it is wise to avoid mouth-to-mouth contact with other people if you think you may have one.

5. Tobacco

Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other tobacco related products can wreak havoc on your oral health. People that smoke of chew tobacco have an increased risk of gum disease and mouth sores. If you smoke, you have likely noticed several issues with your teeth and gums.

If you smoke and you have sensitive gums, quitting will help relieve the pain and reduce your risks of serious gum disease.