Gums Hurt When Brushing

Gums Hurt When Brushing

Let’s talk about brushing. We all know that it is an integral and unskippable step of any oral care routine. Perhaps you have heard it most from parents, teachers, dentists, and hygienists, or you have simply seen what can happen when this ritual goes neglected. No matter what, it is a fact that proper oral care is a must.

Our smiles are one of the first things we present to the world. A friendly, healthy smile is our opportunity to make a remarkable first impression and set the stage for many lovely interactions to come. We all know toothbrushing is necessary, but many factors can complicate the process.

It is not uncommon or unusual for certain people to experience some pain in their gums when brushing their teeth. This pain can naturally serve as a deterrent that causes people to skip this all-important step of their self-care routine, but this can make the issue worse in the long run.

To avoid any further pain and make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible, it is important to identify the root of the discomfort.

While it is beneficial to know more about your body and some of the potential causes of gum pain while brushing, you should take further action if you are experiencing concerns about your oral health.

Contact your dentist for more information, as they will be able to assess the state of your teeth and gums to see if anything should be done and give you personalized advice on your situation.

In the meantime, here are a few common reasons why gums might hurt during brushing, along with a few tips that may be able to help soothe some of the discomfort.

Why Do My Gums Hurt When I Brush My Teeth?

You can quickly remedy some of these causes by adjusting your rituals or the products you use, but others will require the help of a qualified dental professional.

Brushing With a Rough Hand

We may often be led to think that the more harshly we brush our teeth, the cleaner they are. In reality, though, this is not at all the case. Brushing too hard can create a wide variety of problems in our mouths that are easily resolved by simply not pushing against our teeth so hard.

Brushing your teeth too hard can quickly turn a healthy habit into one that does damage. With prolonged harsh brushing, gums can recede and enamel can begin to wear down. Both can lead to increased pain while brushing and are also known to increase discomfort associated with tooth sensitivity.

Gum Disease

If the gum pain you are experiencing is not the result of overly harsh brushing, it could be that gum disease is the culprit.

Gingivitis is the most common and mild form of gum disease, but it can still cause pain when the area is agitated.

If you notice redness and swelling in your gums, mainly around the base of your teeth, you might be experiencing gingivitis. Receding gums, poor breath, and tenderness are also possible signs.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to a much more severe gum disease known as periodontitis. To stop this from happening, be sure to contact your dentist right away for an exam.

Tough Bristles

Even if you do not necessarily make a regular habit out of overly harsh brushing, we may still experience discomfort in our gums if our toothbrush bristles are too stiff or hard.

Three kinds of bristles are attached to toothbrushes: hard, medium, and soft. Some people might naturally assume that hard bristles would be better at removing food, surface stains, and plaque build-up.

However, the American Dental Association actually recommends a soft-bristled toothbrush because this type is less likely to irritate gum tissue and cause swelling.

Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are more commonly known as canker sores. No matter what you prefer to call them, this abrasion of the mouth tissue causes a small and painful wound. While they are certainly unpleasant, these will typically go away on their own in a week or two. They are often caused by accidental trauma to the mouth, but there are other ways that they can originate.

Mouth ulcers become more common during menstruation and can be triggered by acidic foods, allergies, or a potential vitamin deficiency.

Dental Work

If you are currently having dental work done, you will likely find that your entire mouth is more predisposed to discomfort than it used to be. Even if this work is beneficial for your overall health, you might experience some pain in the meantime.

For instance, if you have braces, dental implants, or regularly wear dentures and retainers, you can expect a bit of pain. These items impact your teeth and gums, making them more sensitive to further irritation.

While this pain might be a bit of a — well — pain, it should not seriously disrupt your life and daily habits. If you are in significant amounts of pain and feel that something is not quite right, do not hesitate to reach out to your dentist or orthodontist to get their opinion on the situation. Together, you can determine a plan that works well for everyone while hopefully avoiding more pain in the future.


A lesser-known consequence of seasonal allergies is that they can also lead to gum soreness and swelling. It is also possible that an ingredient within your toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, or other oral health product is setting off this pain.

How Can I Relieve Gum Pain When Brushing Teeth?

The good news is that there are as many ways to help remedy your gum pain as there are potential reasons that they hurt in the first place.

Use Proper Brushing Technique

First, you will want to make sure you are brushing with the correct amount of pressure. You should not experience any pain when you are brushing your teeth. Most dentists recommend a toothbrush with soft bristles that will adequately fend off tooth decay without causing discomfort in the process, and a light hand that’s not pushing the toothbrush against the teeth and gums.

Switch Toothpaste

Certain ingredients in toothpaste can trigger the onset of gum pain, so one next step may be looking for a naturally-derived formula that still does its job cleaning your mouth.

Bite Toothpaste Tablets use a clean, simple formula with ingredients like calcium carbonate to gently polish and clean teeth and sodium bicarbonate to balance the pH in your mouth. No harsh chemicals, parabens, or sulfates here — just natural pepperminty freshness.

Floss Regularly

Flossing, of course, helps to get food out of your teeth, but it also stimulates the gums. If you do not floss regularly, you will likely find that bleeding is the norm when flossing, but that usually discontinues if you make flossing more routine.

Visit the Dentist for a Check-Up

If you’ve changed up your brushing to be gentler, switched toothpaste to a gentler naturally-derived formula, and you are still experiencing gum pain, it is time to schedule a check-up with your dentist. They can help you determine what the issue really is and how to remedy it.

Will My Gum Pain Go Away On Its Own?

Depending on the source of your gum pain, it may go away on its own. However, if you are experiencing any amount of pain that you consider abnormal, or if the pain does not go away, be sure to make an appointment with your dentist to figure out what’s going on.

The Bottom Line

If your gums hurt while you brush, it can be hard to find the motivation to continue to do this necessary ritual as often as you should. Many factors can contribute to gum pain during teeth-brushing, such as tough bristles, too much pressure, dental work, or gum disease.

Any severe pain or pain that does not go away on its own is a sign that you should visit your dentist, but with some trial and error, the cause of your gum pain can be discovered and dealt with accordingly.


Gingivitis – Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic

Toothbrushes | American Dental Association

Mouth Ulcer: What Is It, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

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