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What does gum disease look like? What are gum disease symptoms and signs?

A person with gingivitis will typically have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Bright red, swollen gums that bleed very easily, even during brushing or flossing
  • A bad taste or mouth odor
  • White spots or plaques on the gums
  • Gums that look like they're pulling away from the teeth
  • Pus between gums or teeth
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together in the mouth or spaces opening up between teeth
  • Change in the way partial dentures fit

As gingivitis progresses (chronic gingivitis), various complications may arise. The affected person may develop receding gums or areas where the root of the tooth becomes uncovered by the shrinking, diseased gums. Deep pockets may develop around the teeth that trap food, plaque, and debris. If gingivitis advances to periodontal disease, the person may lose gum tissue or bone around the teeth and the teeth may become loose or fall out. These changes can develop either very slowly or very rapidly and can affect either a few teeth or the entire mouth. If oral hygiene is almost never done or if the person becomes immune-compromised, acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis may develop (ANUG, formerly termed trench mouth). This is a painful condition where infected gums swell, ulcerate, and slough off dead tissue.

It is possible to have gingivitis and not notice any signs or symptoms, so regular visits to the dentist are vital in determining a patient's specific risk level. The dentist is the primary-care provider of the mouth and will be able to provide all of the facts and information necessary in diagnosing the disease and taking steps in curing or reversing gum disease.

Return to Gum Disease

See what others are saying

Comment from: frankspeak, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: March 13

Well, when it hurts too much to even brush your teeth, (unbearable pain), you are getting blister-like eruptions all over the inside of your mouth usually followed by peeling tissue when they burst, and you can begin to see more of the base of your teeth than you have before, you may have a problem with the gum. Swishing whiskey around the inside of the mouth offers some relief and you can swallow it! Still, I might have to spring for a dental appointment just to see if I can get something to clear this up. Also my gum disease symptoms have taken a sudden turn for the worse.

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Comment from: ladydi, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

I wonder how long the bad taste can last from periodontal disease. I have had this taste since March 27 2015. I have seen 5 specialists, neurologist, ENT, a gastroenterologist and back to the dentist where I started to find out it is gum disease in tooth 4.

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Comment from: Suresh, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 05

Unbearable pain in teeth roots and gums and roof of mouth cavity (Right side).No bleeding, no pus, no outside sign of abnormality. No loose tooth on examination. Suspected teeth X-Ray Normal. Diabetic (128-156 mm Hg F/PP)

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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