What causes it?
Gum pain is a pesky issue that happens for a number of reasons.
It can be caused by something as simple as brushing too hard, canker sores, or wearing dentures, retainers, or braces. For women, it may be caused by hormonal changes, pregnancy, or menopause, and can happen around the time of your period.
Explore these different home remedies for quick gum pain relief. Make sure to also learn the difference between when you can simply and safely treat your gum pain at home, and when your gum pain means that you should see a dentist.
What works for gum pain?
If your only symptom is gum pain, try these treatments at home:
1. Saltwater rinse
Warm 1 cup of water on the stove (not to boiling — just warm) and pour into a cool glass. Add 1 tsp salt to the warm water and mix well. Swish and rinse in your mouth, spitting water out into the sink when finished (do not swallow).
The salt will help prevent the growth of bacteria in your mouth, and help decrease the bacteria on your gums which may be causing the swelling. Rinse with warm salt water at least twice per day until swelling subsides.
Try either a hot or cold compress to help reduce pain.
For a hot compress: heat water to a tolerable temperature (not boiling). Soak a clean cloth in the hot water, then squeeze out excess water and gently press the warm, damp cloth to your face near the area where your gum pain is occurring (not directly to your gums).
For a cold compress: wrap an ice pack in a clean cloth and apply in the same way as above. Use either method until pain subsides, or alternate between hot and cold until swelling and inflammation die down.
3. Herbal poultice
Certain herbs and spices can be turned into home remedies for gum inflammation and pain. Clove powder and Spilanthes are both analgesic or pain-relieving herbs. They have been used as alternative, traditional oral pain relievers for a long time. An anti-inflammatory powdered herb like turmeric may also help.
To use this treatment:
- mix the powdered herb of choice with a little warm water until you have a paste consistency
- apply directly to your gums until pain subsides
- rinse your mouth with water
Apply as often as needed.
4. Homemade dental spray
Dilute essential oils into a spray. For this treatment:
- use a small clean spray bottle (that has never had any other product inside it) and add water
- add about five drops of essential oils of choice per ounce of water
- apply spray lightly to gums as needed
Take a fresh bag of tea and steep it in boiling water for up to five minutes, as you do to make tea. Then, when the tea bag is cool enough to touch, apply it directly to painful gums for at least five minutes.
Choose a tea high in astringent tannins, such as black tea, green tea, or even hibiscus tea. Or choose a tea that contains an anti-inflammatory herb, ginger or chamomile are popular examples. The anti-inflammatory herbs will soothe, while the tannins will absorb anything that irritates the gums.
6. Oral anesthetic gels
Medicated oral gels are available on the market. These contain natural and synthetic compounds that help numb and treat gum pain. Some even include pain-numbing compounds from botanicals like clove or Spilanthes.
Common over-the-counter brands include Orajel and Anbesol. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
7. Over-the-counter pain killers
Simple common painkillers and NSAID’s, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can help in a pinch. If pain is stubborn and topical methods above (or others) are not working, give these options a try. You can use them on their own or in addition to topical home treatments. For dosage amounts, follow directions on the bottle labels.
When to see a doctor
Gum pain is often an isolated incident that can be easily treated or relieved.
In certain instances, your gum pain can be a symptom of a bigger oral health issue. See your doctor or dentist if your gum pain is:
- interferes with eating or sleeping
- accompanied by other symptoms
Gum pain can also be a sign of other oral problems. For example:
- Thrush. This oral yeast infection may include gum pain as a symptom. Talk to your doctor if you have gum pain as well as a yellowish coating on your mouth, throat, or inside of your cheeks — it may be thrush.
- Gingivitis. This gum disease is characterized by swollen, painful gums that bleed easily. Go to your dentist if you have red, swollen, bleeding, and sore gums for over a week.
- Periodontal disease or periodontitis. This condition follows untreated gingivitis. Head to your dentist as soon as possible if you’re experiencing gum pain on top of red, swollen gums, gum bleeding, receding gums, tooth loss, and abscesses.
If you have no other symptoms besides gum pain, try being gentler when you’re brushing or flossing your teeth.
If you’re a woman, take note of whether gum pain incidences happen during certain times of the month, or if you’re experiencing pregnancy or menopause. These natural hormonal shifts aren’t uncommon in causing gum pain now and again.