Why do my gums hurt when I brush?

People often ask "Why do my gums hurt when I brush? Pain in the gums is one of the most common complaints we hear from patients when they come in. Pain is your body's way of letting you know that something is wrong. It's unfortunate that so many patients choose to ignore pain in their gums. You wouldn't walk around with pain in your foot every time you put on your shoes - why would you do so for pain in your gums when you brush?

What Causes Pain in the Gums during Brushing?

Incorrect Toothbrush

There are two main causes of pain in the gums when you brush. The first is using improper brushing technique or a tooth brush whose bristles are too hard. It is important to use only a soft-bristled toothbrush that has been approved by the American Dental Association. Though they make toothbrushes with stronger bristles, these can cause damage to your teeth and gums and do not work any better for removing plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth and gum line.

Improper Brushing Technique

When you brush, use a circular motion, as though you were massaging the dirt and debris away from the teeth and gums. Never try to "scrub" your teeth clean. This can cause damage to the gum tissue and tooth enamel, weakening your teeth and causing pain and bleeding when you brush.


If changing your toothbrush and brushing technique does not provide relief, chances are you are suffering from a mild case of gingivitis. This can cause symptoms such as an overly sensitive gum line that bleeds when you brush or floss. It's a very common problem in America, with more than three-quarters of all Americans over age 35 having some type of gum disease.It's important not to stop brushing if you have gingivitis, even if it causes you some pain when you brush. In its earliest stages, gum disease can be completely corrected and healed with proper oral hygiene practices and a deep cleaning from our office. If left untreated, gingivitis can worsen and progress into periodontitis, which can weaken the ligaments and bone that hold your teeth in place.

Treating Pain in the Gums

First, your dentist will check with you to ensure that you are following the proper technique for brushing and flossing your teeth. They will then check for any signs of early gingivitis. If your sore gums are caused by early stage gingivitis, you will be scheduled for a deep cleaning.A deep cleaning is very much like a regular dental cleaning, though your dentist will be more thorough. There will be more scraping involved in order to clean out the deep pockets that may have formed along and beneath the gum line. This will usually be done on one quadrant of your mouth at a time, until the deep cleaning is complete. In more advanced cases, you may also be prescribed an antibiotic.

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