Everything from tobacco usage to sports-related injuries can irritate your gums. However, sometimes gum irritation is self-induced.
While your teeth are the hardest substance in your body, your gums are one of your body’s softer tissues. Delicate and moist, gum tissues can be irritated by several things, from sports-related injuries to accidental falls. However, there’s also a chance that your irritated gums are self-induced via certain foods, whitening treatments, or even your brushing technique.
The best way to prevent such irritation is by understanding what causes it. Here are four common culprits behind self-induced gum irritation and what you can do about them:
1. Brushing Too Vigorously
While you should thoroughly brush your teeth each day, don’t brush them too aggressively. It seems logical that applying a lot of pressure will keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean, but it can actually irritate your gums. Using excessive force while brushing may even cause severe infections.
Similarly, many people misguidedly believe that using a hard-bristled toothbrush will more thoroughly clean their teeth than a soft-bristled one would. However, hard-bristled toothbrushes can erode enamel, recede gum margins, and cause tooth sensitivity.
2. Flossing Incorrectly
When it comes to flossing, you also don’t want to overdo it. Flossing too vigorously or with too much pressure can lead to gum irritation. Snapping floss into place can even bruise or cut your gums, causing bleeding. Luckily, as long as you floss correctly, you’ll be able to effectively remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth with no excessive force required.
Start with 18 inches of floss, and wind the ends around your middle fingers. Hold the floss between your thumbs and forefingers as you move the floss slowly to dislodge any food or plaque. Floss at the base of your teeth to remove plaque from beneath your gum line, and curve the floss against the side of your tooth to remove plaque from between your teeth.
3. Using Home Whitening Treatments
Peroxide-based home whitening treatments are another common culprit behind gum irritation. While over-the-counter whitening strips or trays can whiten your teeth, they weren’t designed to fit your mouth’s unique contours. Consequently, peroxide may come into contact with your gums during the whitening process, leading to irritation.
Instead of these irritating at-home bleaching products, visit a dental professional. They’ll be able to create a custom-fitted whitening tray that will ensure the bleaching product doesn’t come into contact with your gums.
4. Eating The Wrong Foods
Your dietary choices may also be responsible for any gum irritation. When you eat hard candies, potato chips, or other crunchy foods, they can scrape against your gums while you chew, removing your gum lining and causing irritation. If you love crunchy foods, don’t worry! You can still eat celery, carrots, and other healthy alternatives, as these foods can stimulate saliva flow while also removing food particles and bacteria.
Other foods to be wary of include nuts, popcorn, potato chips, and sugarcane. These can become lodged in your gums, causing irritation and even infection! Also, check how hot your drinks are before taking a sip, as hot beverages may burn and irritate your gums.
Preventing Future Irritation
Having irritated gums can be frustrating and even painful. Luckily, there are several quick and easy ways to prevent them from happening.
Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush is one of the best things you can do for your gums. If you use short and precise movements, angle your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line, and apply gentle pressure while cleaning each tooth’s surface. Just make sure to replace your toothbrush every two to three months.
By following the flossing technique described above, you can effectively clean between your teeth and below your gum line without irritating your gums. However, if you’re still struggling with using dental floss or dental tape, consider using a water flosser.
If, despite your best efforts, your gums still end up becoming irritated, try taking over-the-counter painkillers, applying topical gels, rinsing with warm salt water, or applying hot or cold compresses to soothe your gums.
Visit your dentist if you’re unsure of the cause behind your irritated gums or the irritation seems serious. At Espire, our dentists will be able to determine whether an oral health condition or your habits have been irritating your gum tissue, and we can offer you further advice on preventing gum irritation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.