Ask the Dentist – My Gums Hurt
Okay, okay…I’ve slacked off a bit with our Ask the Dentist feature at Family Dental Care Park Ridge. And because of that, our inbox is filled with great questions. So, I printed all of the questions out and with my eyes tightly closed, I reached into the pile and pulled out THIS one:
“My gums hurt. They just seem to be sensitive all of the time. Am I doing something wrong? What can I do to make them feel better?”
I was beginning to wonder when someone would ask this question because in over 20 years of doing dentistry, this is probably one of the most frequently asked questions… “Why do my gums hurt?”
So, here’s the thing…if you experience a change in your “norm” and something (anything) begins to hurt that never hurt before and it’s not going away, my advise to you is to check it out. This goes for medical as well as dental issues. That said, let’s explore why your gums may hurt.
Our oral cavity (mouth) is made up of an intricate relationship between hard and soft tissue and this relationship is interdependent. Our teeth are supported by our jaw bone but are “protected” by a gentler ligament that surrounds each root to soften the impact between tooth root and bone. This entire package is then surrounded by a softer tissue that we refer to as the gums. The gums provide a sort of biological barrier between the tooth and the bone. This biological barrier is constantly bombarded by the bacteria in our mouth but, if we practice proper oral hygiene, we can usually keep the gums healthy enough so that they can do their job in protecting the support system for our teeth. SO…often, if we are not “keeping up” with the bacteria removal in our mouths by correct brushing and flossing, the gums get inflamed. When the gums are inflamed,a very common symptom is for the gums to hurt. Just like a fever is a symptom of something bigger going on in our bodies, so is pain in our gums often a symptom that something bigger is going on. The good news is that, usually, with improved oral hygiene (good brushing and flossing) the gums can respond quickly and happily so that the discomfort goes away. Sometimes, if the bacteria that is causing the gums to be inflamed has really had a chance to set up housekeeping, you may need to include some warm salt water rinses (one tablespoon of salt in a drinking glass of warm water to swish around in your mouth and then spit as often as necessary during the day) and periodic gum massages with your finger.
If your gums continue to hurt despite these measures, it is time to call the dentist and set up an appointment to see the hygienist or the dentist. Gums that continue to hurt despite your efforts to resolve that, need to be checked out. Sometimes the solution is as simple as switching out your toothpaste which, in some rare cases, can cause some gum sensitivity. Sometimes you may have small irritations on your gums caused by viruses that are making your gums hurt. The bottom line is this. If you have committed to excellent oral hygiene including flossing and brushing and you have tried warm salt water rinses and massaging your gums and you still have painful gums, it needs to be checked out so that the correct treatment can be started. Most often, however, improving your oral hygiene works wonders on improving painful gum symptoms!
Thanks to all of you who have submitted questions to Ask the Dentist. Please continue to send them in…we will get to each of them as soon as possible! You can ask your questions below in the comment section or you can email me at info@ParkRidgeDDS.com
And, remember, as always…we LOVE making you smile!