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Home treatments for sore gums

Updated April 17, 2017

Sore gums make life miserable. While there are treatments your dentist can recommend or prescribe, sometimes it is best to try basic home remedies first. These are simple additions to your daily oral hygiene practices, using readily available substances found at home and in common neighbourhood stores.

Brushing up your Defenses

Sore gums can occur for a number of reasons, but gum disease and overly aggressive brushing are the two most common. By improving your brushing practices you can often reduce soreness, sensitivity and inflammation.

Begin by determining if your sore gums are being caused by damage as a result of over-brushing or brushing with an overly stiff bristled brush. Many people, with the best intentions, over-brush. While dentists are right to recommend brushing between meals overly conscientious brushing can erode tooth enamel and can irritate and scratch gums, leading to sore gums and weakened teeth. If you have been working hard to improve your oral hygiene you may need to consider gentler methods than you have been using. A softer bristled brush used with a gentle up-down stroke without too much horizontal scouring can reduce the amount of damage being done to the teeth and gums. Be sure to use a mild mouthwash afterward rather than a painfully harsh one: no-pain no-gain may be valid in some situations, but not when healing over-brushed gums.

When to Increase your Approach

In many other cases, however, sore gums are the result of too little hygiene rather than too much. When too little brushing, flossing or other oral hygiene leaves a bountiful environment for bacteria to flourish infections set in. In this case the best home remedy is increased brushing, regular flossing and the use of interdental tooth cleaning tools (Waterpik, tooth wedges or interdental brushes) to remove the layers of food, tartar and plaque.

Begin with a medium brush. Use a gentle up-down motion with the brush angled closely in at the base of the gum at a 45 degree angle. Be sure to get the inner and outer surfaces of the tooth and to work around behind the final molars, brushing away debris and germs. Follow up with a good flossing or other form of cleaning designed to get between teeth. Finish with an antiseptic rinse. There are many good commercial products available, but a salt wash or a 3 per cent solution of hydrogen peroxide are often recommended by professional dentists. Be sure to clean and rinse your brush in hydrogen peroxide after use, also. There is little benefit to cleaning your teeth and gums if you then allow the same germs to flourish on your brush and return to your mouth the next day.

But it Hurts to Brush

The hardest part of dealing with infected gums is the reaction to the pain and bleeding that occur when you begin treatment. Good sense has to be used here: you must clean the gums and teeth, and that will cause minor bleeding and pain. If, however, you brush too hard and rake up the skin of the gums you can do damage. You must demonstrate good judgment in this circumstance. Observe the progress you make over one week. If the sore gums are markedly worse after four days, try changing rinses, and try adjusting the technique of brushing. If these methods fail it may be time to shift to professional treatment: there may be more wrong with your gums than basic home treatment can address, or you may have a sensitivity to one of more cleaning agents that your dentist can help you work around.

Final Suggestions

Once you have addressed matters of basic hygiene you can consider one more factor in sore gums: nutrition. Few modern people even consider the question of scurvy in their lives, but if you are bruising easily, have sore gums and even loosening teeth, fatigue and swelling. If you have these symptoms and you eat relatively little fresh fruit and vegetables or take no vitamin supplements there is a chance you are suffering a mild case of scurvy. Fortunately the cure is incredibly simple: scurvy is a vitamin deficiency disease caused by lack of vitamin C. A simple vitamin C supplement and increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables should cause improvement within a matter of weeks.

Taking care of serious gum problems should not be taken on at home without a dentist's supervision, but by using the basic methods given above most minor problems can be improved if not resolved without further damage to teeth and gums.

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About the Author

Peg Robinson's first sale was in Pocket Books' 1999 "Strange New Worlds." Her credits include award-winning "Helixsf," and "Cicada Magazine." Her novela, "Tonino and the Incubus," qualified for the 2007 Nebulas. She graduated with honors in religious studies from UCSB. She's currently in an M.A./Ph.D. program in mythological studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute.