What Causes Gum Sensitivity, and What Can You Do About It?

Gum tissue has an important role to play in the oral cavity. It helps anchor the ligaments that
hold our teeth in place and keeps bacteria away from our tooth roots and bones, helping to
prevent infection.

However, gum tissue is not immune to problems, particularly disease and irritation that can
make gum tissue sensitive and painful. What exactly can cause gum sensitivity and what will
help it go away?

Brushing or Flossing Too Aggressively

Surprisingly, most people are using the wrong toothbrush. Brushing with a toothbrush that has
stiff bristles can harm gum tissue as well as your tooth enamel. As long as you’re using quality
brushing techniques, a soft-bristled toothbrush is your best bet to protect your gums and your
tooth enamel from damage.

Flossing too aggressively can also cause sensitive gum tissue, especially if you haven’t flossed in
a long time. Be gentle when flossing and don’t rush. Avoid making a sawing motion at your gum
tissue with the floss. By taking the time to brush and floss your teeth properly, you can avoid
irritating your gums!

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an unfortunate reality for millions of Americans today.
Symptoms of gum disease include swollen or sensitive gum tissue that may bleed [1]. Gum
disease is progressive and if left untreated can lead to loose teeth and even tooth loss.

By the time gum disease produces symptoms, the disease is already progressing, which makes
getting regular checkups with your dentist all the more important. However, making an
appointment with your dentist as soon as you notice symptoms can help you get the treatment
you need as soon as possible to reverse your gum sensitivity.


Hormone changes during pregnancy can cause increased blood flow to the gum tissue which
may make gums more swollen and sensitive [2]. Periodontal disease during pregnancy is also
common due to changing hormones and can cause sensitive teeth and bleeding gum tissue.

It’s safe to see your dentist while you’re pregnant and in fact may even be important not only
for your health but for the health of your baby, as periodontal disease has been linked to
premature birth and low birth weight, so get those checkups!

Chronic Stress

Experiencing stress from time to time is normal, but experiencing chronic, prolonged stress has
the potential to cause inflammation throughout the body as the result of the hormone cortisol.
This type of chronic inflammation can lead to symptoms of gum disease such as sensitive gum
tissue and has been linked to other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes [3].

Your dentist can help you prevent gum disease with regular checkups and cleanings, and by
managing your stress, you’ll help your body as well as your smile!

Sensitive gum tissue is trying to tell you something, so don’t ignore gums that may be red,
tender, or inflamed. By seeing your dentist and getting a checkup to evaluate your gum health,
you can help protect and nourish your teeth with healthy gum tissue for life!

1. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info
2. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/swollen-gums-during-pregnancy/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88948/