What are sore gums?

Gum soreness is the result of redness, swelling, pain, sores, ulcers or bleeding. Sore gums are most commonly caused by inflammation or infection of the gums as a result of poor oral hygiene. The symptoms may be constant or variable and may worsen when eating or drinking. If gum pain is present, it may be described as sharp, dull, stabbing, burning or throbbing, ranging in intensity from mild to severe.

Depending on the cause, sore gums may be felt in only a small part of a gum (sore or ulcer), or at the gum line (periodontitis). Other conditions may affect all of the gums (bleeding or swelling). Gingivitis and other types of inflammatory conditions are among the most common causes of sore gums.

Vitamin deficiencies, such as scurvy and iron deficiency anemia, can be associated with symptoms that involve both the mouth and the gums. Disorders of the immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and Behcet’s syndrome (condition that causes widespread inflammation of blood vessels), often produce symptoms in the mouth and gums. Infections of the gums (gingivitis), skin and soft tissue (cellulitis), or bone (osteomyelitis) are further causes of sore gums.

The duration and course of sore gums vary widely, depending on the cause. Symptoms caused by inflammation often have a sudden onset. In other cases, sore gums resulting from underlying vitamin deficiencies develop slowly and persist or worsen over time.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pain, or difficulty swallowing or breathing. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for sore gums but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What other symptoms might occur with sore gums?

Sore gums may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the gums may also involve other body systems.

Common symptoms that may occur along with sore gums

Sore gums may accompany other symptoms affecting the gums including:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Read more about sore gumssymptoms


What causes sore gums?

Sore gums are caused by multiple factors that result in inflammation of the gums. Inflammation due to plaque on the teeth is responsible for many cases of sore gums. Plaque is an invisible, sticky film composed mainly of bacteria, which results in irritation of the gum line, swelling, and bleeding. For this reason, sore gums occur most frequently in people that do not practice good oral hygiene... Read more about sore gumscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: May 7, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health