Sensitive, sore, or bleeding gums can be a sign of serious dental health problems, like abscesses, tooth infections, gingivitis or periodontitis. It's important for you to see your dentist if you notice symptoms like this, so that you can get to the root of the problem. However, in the short term, you need to soothe your sore gums and stop the bleeding so that you can eat and speak normally. Here are a few home remedies that you can use to treat your gums until you can get to the dentist.
If your gums are simply swollen and sore, then cold water or ice are the best ways to relieve the pain. The cold constricts the blood vessels in your gums, causing an immediate decrease in swelling, which will also reduce the pain. You may also want to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen, which will help keep the swelling down after the effects of the cold water or ice wear off.
You should avoid using popsicles, ice cream, or other sugary cold items to soothe your mouth. While this may help temporarily, the sugar could end up aggravating your gums in the long run. If you have a broken or decayed tooth or an exposed nerve, skip the ice water treatment – it will cause more pain if the cold items hit the nerves in the tooth.
For Bleeding Gums
If your gums are red or swollen, they may begin to bleed after brushing or eating. While this may look alarming, gum bleeding is usually short lived and not a medical emergency. Gargling with warm salt water can help stop the bleeding. While you wouldn't normally put salt on a wound, this should actually feel soothing to sensitive gums.
If you see bleeding after brushing, you should consider switching to a brush with softer bristles or using a gentler touch when brushing your teeth, at least until you consult a dentist. If it occurs after eating, you may want to switch to soft foods until you see your dentist for further guidance.
For an Abscess or Tooth Infection
Gum pain or bleeding may be confined to the gums, but in some cases, it occurs as a result of tooth infection or an abscess. If you have a tooth infection, you'll most likely know it, because you'll feel pain in the infected tooth as well as in your gums. Abscesses are often painful as well, but sometimes they aren't. Either way, you can tell if you have an abscess by the pus-filled bump that you'll find near the affected tooth.
The best thing that you can do when you have a tooth infection that is causing gum pain is to keep your mouth as clean as possible until you see a dentist. Brush more frequently (but gently) and use a bacteria fighting mouthwash. You may also want to try rinsing your mouth with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. Peroxide is effective as an oral debridement technique, and it can help kill the germs that are causing the infection.
Remember, these tips are only effective in the short term. They can help you get through the night or the weekend until your dentist's office is open, but you should make a dentist appointment as soon as you can to discuss a long term plan to restore your gum health.