Why Do My Gums Hurt When I Brush My Teeth?

22 January 2024

We’ve all been there: You’re brushing your teeth and feel some pain in your gums as the bristles sweep across a certain area of your mouth. Or you go to rinse and notice a bit of blood mixed in with the toothpaste in the sink. Gum pain from time to time is not unusual. And it’s normally caused by some minor issue that will often just clear up on its own. But sometimes, gum pain can be a sign of something more serious.

So, here’s our guide to the common causes of gum pain, what to look out for, and some of the ways you can help prevent it from occurring in the future.

Common Causes

Aggressive Brushing

One of the primary culprits behind gum pain during brushing is often our own brushing technique. It might seem counterintuitive, but brushing your teeth with too much enthusiasm can do more harm than good. Aggressive brushing can lead to gum recession, enamel erosion, and, you guessed it, sore gums.


Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, is another common reason for gum pain. It occurs when plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—builds up along the gumline, leading to inflammation. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis.

Toothpaste Sensitivity

Some toothpaste formulations contain abrasive ingredients or harsh chemicals that may cause sensitivity and irritation in the gums in some people.


Hormonal changes, particularly during pregnancy or menstruation, can impact the health of your gums. Increased hormone levels can make your gums more sensitive and prone to inflammation.


These small oral wounds (usually white with a red outline) make the tissue of your mouth more sensitive and painful to the touch.


It’s hard to avoid, but stress can have an impact on your body as well as your brain. Anxiety can cause cortisol levels to increase which can lead to an inflammatory response in your gums.

Allergic Reaction

Some foods and drinks, and even some dental hygiene products, can produce an allergic reaction in certain people. This reaction can include swelling, redness and soreness in the mouth


Hot foods and drinks can damage the tissues in your mouth which can leave a sore, stinging sensation.

Underlying Health Issues

Sometimes, gum pain while brushing can be a symptom of underlying health issues such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders. These conditions can affect the body’s ability to fight off infections, including those in the gums.

How Can You Help Prevent Sore Gums?

So, we’ve seen that gum pain is a fairly common problem with many different causes. But there’s a number of things you can do to help prevent your gums from getting sore in the first place.

Switch to a Softer Toothbrush

Opt for a toothbrush with soft bristles to reduce the risk of irritation and damage to your gums. Remember, it’s not about how hard you brush but how effectively you clean your teeth.

Choose the Right Toothpaste

Select a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth and gums. Look for products that contain fluoride without abrasive additives. These toothpaste options can help alleviate discomfort and protect your teeth.

Practice Proper Brushing Technique

Brush your teeth using gentle, circular motions rather than aggressive scrubbing. Pay attention to the gumline and ensure you’re reaching all surfaces of your teeth. A thorough yet gentle approach is key.

Floss Regularly

Incorporate flossing into your daily routine to remove plaque and debris between your teeth and along the gumline. This simple step can significantly contribute to gum health and prevent inflammation.

Stay Hydrated

Adequate hydration is essential for overall health, including your oral health. Drinking enough water helps flush out bacteria and supports saliva production, which plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy mouth.

Balanced Diet

A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for gum health. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products in your diet to support your overall oral well-being.

Quit Smoking

If you’re a smoker, you should seriously consider quitting. Smoking not only stains your teeth but also increases the risk of gum disease.

Manage Stress

Stress can impact your immune system and increase the risk of gum disease. Reducing your anxiety levels will benefit your whole overall well-being, including your gum health. Try and incorporate stress-management techniques such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises into your daily routine and you should start to see the benefits in all kinds of ways.

Regular Dental Check-ups

We hope this one almost goes without saying, but seeing your Pateley Bridge dentist regularly is key to maintaining good gum health – as well as spotting anything more serious in the early stages when prevention and treatment are usually far more effective.


Gum pain is a common problem that most of us will experience at some point in our lives. And, as we’ve seen, usually it’s nothing to worry about. But if you are experiencing gum pain that lasts an extended period of time or keeps coming back consistently it’s crucial that you speak to us to find out the cause – and even more importantly – find the solution.

So, if you’re due a check-up – or you’d like to discuss any issues concerning your oral health – get in touch with Pateley Bridge Dental today – click here.