Irritated Gums? 5 Potential Causes

Irritated gums are a common issue but one that your dentist can help you fix. The key to stopping the irritation is understanding the causes. From changing oral care habits to treating an underlying condition, you don’t have to live with painful irritation around your gums.

1. Over Brushing and FlossingPhoto by Anna Shvets:

It’s a common mistake to think brushing harder will remove more plaque. However, the harder you brush, the more likely you are to damage your gums. The tissue is sensitive and soft. Toothbrush bristles scratch and scrape, sometimes leading to cuts that get inflamed and irritated. Brush firmly yet gently and take it easy on your gums.

The same applies to flossing. Floss gently without using too much pressure, especially along the gums. If you’re uncertain about how much pressure to use with brushing and flossing or suspect you might be applying too much force with your routines, talk with your dentist. 

2. Too Much Whitening at Home

At-home whitening treatments aren’t necessarily bad. However, they’re not custom-made to fit your teeth, potentially leading to too much peroxide on your gums. The result is irritated gums. If you notice irritation after an at-home treatment, ask your dentist about whitening in the office instead to prevent future irritation.

3. Periodontal Disease Causes Irritated Gums

According to the CDC, 42.2% of all Americans over 30 have some form of periodontitis, also known as gum disease. Naturally, this leads to gum irritation. From not brushing correctly to illness and hormones, there are a lot of things that can increase your risk of periodontal disease. Luckily, regular dental checkups help prevent severe cases, reduce the chance of gum irritation, and improve overall oral health.

4. Medications

Medications may help treat one condition, but they sometimes have unexpected side effects like irritated gums. If you’ve recently been prescribed or started taking a new medication and are noticing issues with your gums, talk to your dentist. They may be able to suggest products and oral care techniques to reduce irritation. 

5. Food and Smoking

Smoking is notorious for causing yellow teeth, but it also increases bacterial build-up on your teeth. This can lead to gum disease and irritation. For optimal oral health, skip the cigarettes and cigars. 

Food is also a major culprit when it comes to gum irritation. Hard and crunchy foods scratch and cut your gums. Food might get stuck deep between teeth, causing constant irritation and even bleeding gums. Typically, food-related irritation goes away as the gum heals, but your dentist may recommend an oral rinse to aid in the healing.

Dealing with irritation and even bleeding gums? Find out more about how we treat periodontal disease.