Sore gums can have many potential causes, such as gum disease, vigorous brushing, or hormonal changes. They can also be a sign of COVID-19 infection, although this is not a common symptom.

Sore gums without any other symptoms are unlikely to be a sign of COVID-19. But if you experience sore gums along with more common symptoms like fever, cough, and tiredness, it’s more likely that you may be dealing with COVID-19 or another serious condition.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can tell if your sore gums are caused by COVID-19 or if they may have another cause.

Sore gums can potentially be a symptom of COVID-19, but it’s not among the most common symptoms. It’s unlikely that you have COVID-19 if you have sore gums without any other symptoms.

COVID-19 may also indirectly contribute to sore gums by leading to a dry mouth that raises your risk for developing gum disease.

COVID-19 has also been linked to the formation of sore ulcers on your gums, lips, and other parts of your mouth.

Mouth ulcers

Ulcers of the mouth can potentially develop with COVID-19 as well as other viral diseases like dengue fever, Ebola, and measles. These sore ulcers may appear on your gums, lips, palate, tongue, and throat.

A February 2021 case series suggests that the development of mouth ulcers during a COVID-19 infection is associated with loss of taste and smell. Ulcers were more common in older people and people with severe infections.

Ulcers seem to typically develop in the early stages of the disease after loss of taste and before general symptoms such as fever, cough, and fatigue. Ulcers seemed to generally heal with treatment within 2 weeks.

Dry mouth may contribute to gum pain

A 2021 review of studies found that dry mouth was the most common symptom of the mouth in people with COVID-19 and was reported by 75 people in a group of 170 people with oral symptoms.

A dry mouth can also lead to an increased chance of developing gum disease. Gum pain is a potential symptom of gum disease. So while COVID-19 may not directly cause gum pain, this kind of pain can indirectly result from COVID-19.

Research has linked gum disease with COVID-19 due to shared risk factors, including:

  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • aging
  • hypertension

A dry mouth can potentially develop before other symptoms of COVID-19.

A case study of a 56-year-old female found that she developed dry mouth and loss of taste 2 days before other COVID-19 symptoms onset such as fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Here are some conditions that may cause gum pain.

Gum disease

Gum disease is usually caused by a bacterial infection that can develop when food and plaque get trapped in and around your gums. It can cause gum pain and other symptoms such as:

Hormonal changes

Women may notice gum pain due to changes in hormones. The hormones estrogen and progesterone increase blood flow to the gums and can make them more sensitive.

Some reasons why levels of these hormones may change include:


Vitamin C, protein, and vitamin B deficiency can lead to swollen and sore gums and other oral symptoms.

In some cases, making dietary changes may solve malnutrition. Lack of food availability and underlying medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, can play a role.

Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a yeast infection in your mouth that can cause yellowish-white bumps to form on your cheeks, gums, lips, and tongue.

Oral thrush can also cause:

  • bleeding
  • sore or burning mouth
  • cotton-like sensation
  • a bad taste in your mouth
  • loss of taste

Oral herpes

Herpes simplex is a viral infection that can be passed between people and can cause cold sores in the mouth.

During outbreaks, you’ll experience painful sores that hurt to touch. The sores can appear on your lips, gums, or your palate.

Dental abscess

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms from a bacterial infection. They can form at the root of your tooth or in your gum.

The primary symptom is sharp pain. It can also cause swollen gums, bad breath, and facial swelling.

Some other causes of gum pain include:

  • scratches of your gums
  • brushing your teeth too vigorously
  • flossing aggressively
  • allergy to dental products such as toothpaste or mouthwash
  • food allergy
  • burns
  • improperly fitting dentures
  • gum damage from tobacco use
  • canker sores

It’s a good idea to visit a doctor or dentist if your gum pain persists for more than a couple of days and presents with other signs of gum disease, such as gum bleeding or gums peeling away from your teeth.

If you have typical symptoms of COVID-19 or if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, isolate yourself from others as much as possible. You should also seek immediate medical attention if you develop severe symptoms.

The best treatment for sore gums depends on the underlying cause.

COVID-19– Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated
– Seek immediate medical attention if you have severe symptoms
Thrush– Oral antifungal medication
– Thrush will often go away without treatment in healthy adults
Oral herpes– Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol)
– Stay hydrated
– Topical anesthetics
Dental abscess– Root canal
– Removing the affected tooth
– Incision and drainage
– Antibiotics if the infection spreads
Malnutrition– Treatment to target the root cause of malnutrition
– Dietary changes
Hormonal changes– Treatment of the underlying condition causing hormonal changes
– Treatment to manage symptoms
Canker sores/cold sores– Often, treatment is not needed
– Steroid mouth rinses
– Oral medications

You can minimize your chances for developing sore gums caused by gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends:

  • brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • cleaning between your teeth once per day
  • minimizing sugar and eating a nutrient-rich diet
  • visiting your dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease

Living a lifestyle that supports your overall health that includes enough sleep, a balanced diet, and minimal stress can help keep your immune system strong and minimize your chances for developing infections that may lead to sore gums.

You can help minimize your chances for developing COVID-19 by following prevention guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed:

  • get a COVID-19 vaccinewhen available
  • avoid crowded areas and areas with poor ventilation
  • wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer when soap is not available
  • avoid contact with people with a recent COVID-19 infection
  • stay six feet away from people not in your household
  • wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth

COVID-19 can potentially lead to sore gums and other oral symptoms.

But there are also many other potential causes of sore gums. They’re unlikely to be a sign of COVID-19 unless you develop other common symptoms of COVID-19 such as a fever, fatigue, or a cough.