Gum pain is something that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. Sometimes, it can start as a small annoyance that may resolve itself by taking some extra care with oral hygiene. At other times, it starts off being quite painful and only increases over time. But why do we experience gum pain and what can we do about it?
The Role of The Gums in Oral Health
Knowing how your gums affect your oral health can help you to understand why you may be experiencing pain. Before we go any further, it is important to know why your gums are so important to maintaining a healthy smile and strong teeth.
Your gums make up part of the soft tissue lining of the mouth. They provide a seal around the teeth. The gums are tightly connected to the underlying bone, which protects against the friction of food passing over them.
Gums, much like the intestines, house a complex ecosystem known as the microbiome. The different types of bacteria that are found in gum tissue compete for space. When these different types of bacteria are in balance, gum tissue remains healthy.
However, when a disturbance occurs in the gum microbiome, pathogens invade, thus causing an imbalance which can result in infection or disease. Gum pain is typically caused by one of the following problems:
Trauma To The Gums
The most common way people injure their gums is by brushing their teeth too aggressively. To get their teeth clean and white, many believe that scrubbing the toothbrush vigorously across the surface of the teeth will yield better oral health results. However, quite the opposite is true.
Brushing your teeth aggressively will not only NOT make your teeth whiter and your breath fresher, but doing so will cause damage to the delicate gum tissue in your mouth. It’s important to be gentle and to improve your brushing technique whether you are experiencing gum pain or not.
For gentle, effective brushing, use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Grip the brush gently and pass it over all areas of the teeth and gum line for approximately two minutes, using very light pressure. For even better results, it is recommended that you use a rechargeable toothbrush with a timer on it. This allows you to safely and effectively brush each quadrant of your mouth.
Gum infections most often occur because of sinusitis or an abscessed tooth/teeth. Gum pain that is caused by a sinus infection usually clears up on its own, once the sinus infection clears. However, if the infection is bacterial in nature, your dentist or doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic.
If an abscess is found to be the cause of your gum pain, a dentist with endodontic training will need to perform a root canal. During this procedure, the infected tissue and abscess are removed from the tooth root. Following the removal of the infected material, the damaged tooth is then repaired, sealed, and covered with a permanent crown.
Gum disease is caused by excess bacteria and plaque in the mouth, which usually occurs due to poor at-home dental care. Over time, gum disease can become quite severe, if left untreated. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, your dentist will consult with you and recommend the best course of treatment.
If your gum disease is less severe, your dentist will likely recommend a professional or deep cleaning to get rid of plaque and tartar buildup along the gumline. You may also be given a medical strength mouthwash to help flush out harmful bacteria and to reduce the chance of future buildup.
For severe gum disease, you may require surgery to repair bone/gum loss. In some cases, tissue and bone grafting may have to be performed to facilitate the growth of healthy tissue.
Removing food from between the teeth by flossing encourages a healthy mouth and gums. However, just as some people brush their teeth too aggressively, some use floss recklessly as well.
Flossing too hard can lead to painful, bleeding gums. Pushing your dental floss too hard down onto your gums can cause them to become inflamed. This action can also cause your gums to bleed.
Instead, gently maneuver the floss between the teeth and move it back and forth over both sides of your gums in a gentle manner to remove food particles. For even better results, many find it worthwhile to invest in a water flosser. Water flossers offer an excellent, efficient way to get rid of even the tiniest food particles.
Biting And Chewing Hard or Sharp Foods
This has happened to everyone. You’re munching on your favorite, crispy snack. Then, all of a sudden, the chip that you have in your mouth has somehow maneuvered itself into a peculiar position between your teeth and gums. When you bite or chew, it jams painfully into the soft tissue.
While this can be quite uncomfortable and a nuisance, the issue typically resolves itself within a day or two. Remove the piece of food and continue to brush and floss as normal. To speed up the healing process, swishing your mouth with warm salt water may help to ease the pain and inflammation.
Help For Gum Pain
At Gallardo Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, John Paul Gallardo, DDS, is recognized as South Florida’s premier periodontist with more than 25 years of experience. Dr. Gallardo stays at the cutting-edge of dental technologies that help to diagnose and treat gum disease safely and effectively.
Dr. Gallardo’s attention to detail, commitment to communication, and advanced techniques allow him to provide his patients with excellent results and little to no downtime. To learn more, please visit www.miamiperio.com or call 305-547-8687 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Gallardo today.