What Does Gum Disease Look Like

Taking care of your gums is one of the essential steps to good oral hygiene. Healthy gums should look light pink and firm. However, if there is redness, swelling, or bleeding of the gums when you brush or floss your teeth, it can be a sign of gum problems. 

If you suspect signs of gum disease and are experiencing some of its symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Peel Dental Studio provides thorough oral examinations, dental cleaning procedures, and gum disease treatment to help you achieve optimum oral health.

If you want to know what to look out for with gum disease, keep reading this blog post. We will discuss all gum diseases, specifically what they might look like to the untrained eye.

What Exactly Is Gum Disease?

Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two significant stages of gum disease

Gingivitis is a milder form in which bacteria build on the teeth and cause inflammation of the gums. The bacteria in plaque is responsible for the early stages of gingivitis, causing the gums to become irritated and bleed easily during tooth brushing. However, in most gingivitis cases, the teeth are still firmly anchored in their sockets as there is still no irreparable bone or tissue damage. 

Additionally, there are certain forms of gingivitis-causing gum infections unrelated to plaque accumulation. These include viral or fungal diseases, such as thrush, an impacted tooth that fails to emerge completely or medication-intake that causes gingival enlargement. If this occurs, the flap of gum that covers the tooth might become clogged with debris, resulting in gingivitis.

On the other hand, periodontitis is the result of long-term or untreated gingivitis. It is a severe form of gum disease that causes the inner layer of the gum and bone to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets. Between teeth and gums, these gaps gather bacteria-filled plaque or food debris that can infect the bone that holds the tooth. 

Gum Disease Signs and Symptoms

In gingivitis, the gums can become swollen, darker in colour, and may even bleed. Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, in which the bone is lost and the teeth become loose or even fall out due to the gums pulling away from the teeth. 

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you may have gum disease to some degree. Take note that healthy gums are firm, pale pink, and fit tightly around the teeth. If you want to know if you have gum disease, pay attention to the following signs and symptoms.

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste 
  • Gums that are red and swollen
  • Receding gums
  • When you floss or brush your teeth, you may experience bleeding gums.
  • Difficulty or pain while chewing
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in the position of your teeth
  • Buildup of plaque on your teeth

Make an appointment with your dentist if you see any indications or symptoms of gingivitis. The sooner you seek treatment, the greater your chances of reversing gingivitis damage and preventing periodontitis.

What Causes Gum Disease?

What Causes Gum Disease?

The buildup of bacterial plaque around your teeth is the most prevalent cause of gingivitis. Plaque activates the immune system, leading to the destruction of gingival tissue. However, gum disease is also caused or can be aggravated by several factors. Here are some causes of gum disease:

Tobacco use

Smoking weakens your immune system. There isn’t enough oxygen in the bloodstream when someone smokes, so the gums are prone to bacterial infection. A person who smokes has a lot more plaque on their teeth and gums, which makes gum disease worse than in people who don’t smoke. 

According to research, smokers have twice the risk of gum disease as nonsmokers. Moreover, gum infections are challenging to cure because gums injured by smoking do not recover rapidly.


Inflammation of the gums can be aggravated by poor nutrition. Your immune system will struggle to fight periodontal infection without enough nourishment, increasing your risk of gum disease. In addition, a lack of vitamin C and sugary foods may make gums more prone to bacterial infection.


Your family’s dental history may influence your dental issues. Your genetic makeup influences the shape of your teeth and your susceptibility to oral diseases. According to studies, the bacteria responsible for gum disease is more prevalent in children whose parents have it. 

Side effects of medications

Some medicines have side effects of gingival overgrowth that cause the gum tissue to swell and extend over the teeth. Excess gingival growth increases the risk of periodontal disease. Medicines including phenytoin, cyclosporine, and blood pressure medications can cause this side effect.

Furthermore, some medicines cause dry mouth, increasing the risk of gum disease. Dry mouth is a side effect of many drugs, including chemotherapy, antihistamines, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

How Does Your Dentist Diagnose Gum Disease?

During dental checkups, your dentist will review your medical history to determine any risk factors, such as smoking and malnutrition. Then, your dentist will examine your mouth for evidence of plaque and tartar accumulation.

If you have gum disease, your dentist will measure how deep the groove between your gums and teeth is by placing a dental probe next to your tooth beneath the gum line. The pocket depth of a healthy mouth’s pocket ranges between 1 and 3 millimetres. Periodontitis may be indicated by the presence of pockets greater than 4 mm in depth. When your dentist finds larger pocket depths in certain areas of your mouth, dental X-rays should be conducted to check for bone loss.

Can You Prevent Gum Disease?

Yes, you can prevent gum disease through proper oral health care at home and regular cleaning at your dentist. To maintain good oral hygiene, brush your teeth using a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, use floss daily, and use an antibacterial mouth rinse. During your dental checkup, your dentist will perform an inspection and professional cleaning that can aid in identifying the early signs of gingivitis and treating it if necessary. At this point, gum disease can usually be managed with minimal discomfort or inconvenience. In this way, gingivitis won’t progress to periodontitis. 

Is Gum Disease Linked to Other Health Problems?

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth because of the bacteria from plaque buildup. In some people vulnerable to gum disease, the body overreacts to the bacteria in the area around the gums, resulting in an excessive amount of swelling and irritation. Intensive gum inflammation affects the bloodstream, and it is considered responsible for the gradual destruction of blood vessels in the heart and brain over an extended period.

As a result, the condition of your teeth has an impact on your entire health, with gum disease being connected to a variety of systemic diseases. Therefore, gum disease may increase your risk of developing a variety of other health concerns, such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease, among other things. According to studies, the presence of gum disease has even been linked to complications during pregnancy and dementia.

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Gum Disease?

Untreated gum disease will cause the plaque on your teeth to harden into tartar, and gingivitis may progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis is the most common complication of persistent gingivitis. When gum disease advances, the gums can detach away from the teeth and the bone, which can result in gaps that can get infected. The bones and tissue that support your teeth can degenerate, resulting in loss of teeth.

Additionally, untreated gingivitis may cause a gum abscess to develop. It happens when the film of bacteria in the mouth infect the space between the teeth and the gums. Dental abscesses are typically painful and have a history of spreading to other parts of the body. Also, the gum tissue that protects the teeth might pull back, exposing more teeth. This is called “gum recession”, which can form  “deep pockets” or spaces between the teeth and gum, allowing harmful bacteria to flourish.

When Should You See Your Dentist if You Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease treatment from a dentist can often be the first line of defence against it, and they may offer a professional clean or a scale and polish to help. Once you’ve had the first dental cleaning appointment, your dentist may instruct you to come back for a second appointment to check the progression of treatment.

What to Expect with Gum Disease Treatment

Your dentist may recommend standard teeth cleaning methods for mild gum disorders, which include scaling off the plaque or tartar above and a little bit below the gumline. Scaling and root planing or commonly known as deep cleaning is a more complex procedure where the dentist scales above the teeth all the way to the root area where the periodontal pockets have formed. Root Planning is then performed to smoothen the root of the tooth to promote the reattachment of tooth fibres that were disrupted by the plaque and tartar.

However, if your gum disease is severe, flap surgery may be required where the gums are retracted, and tartar is scraped off their surfaces during the operation. Smoothing the uneven surfaces of broken bones may be necessary to reduce the number of possible hiding places for disease-causing microorganisms. The gums must be positioned in such a way that the soft tissue around the tooth fits appropriately. Then, bone surgery is used to conceal shallow craters in the bone caused by mild to severe bone loss. The bone surrounding your teeth will be adjusted following the flap surgery to reduce the craters in your mouth. 

How Long Does Gum Disease Treatment Take?

how long does gum disease treatment take

A typical deep cleaning visit lasts around 45 minutes. Generally, deep cleaning will require two visits to thoroughly clean both sides of the mouth.

For severe cases, gum surgery usually takes around 2 hours. In some instances, the surgery will require the patient to be asleep. A local anesthetic may be used to numb the gums. 

Typically, gum surgery requires a few days of recovery. Ensure that you follow the home care recommendations provided by your dentist or oral surgeon to keep your mouth healthy.

Final Thoughts 

Gingival care is critical for maintaining overall oral health. If your dental health is poor, you are more prone to developing periodontal disease. Maintain a healthy mouth through proper oral hygiene practices like daily brushing and regular checkups at the dental clinic. If you believe you may be at risk for gum disease, schedule a dental examination at Peel Dental Studio.

Peel Dental Studio is a dental clinic that provides professional treatment to prevent gum disease in all patients. Our dentists have extensive experience in performing surgical and nonsurgical treatments for all types of gum disease. Our mission is to give you the highest level of dental care and service available. 

To schedule an appointment, please call us at 89535-4900 or stop by our clinic at 150 Pinjarra Road, Mandurah, WA 6210.

Disclaimer: Use At Your Own Risk:- The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. Any action you take upon the information on these blogs is strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of the information from these blogs.

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Peel Dental Studio


Dr. Bailey formerly served on the Australian Dental Association as President, Vice President Treasurer and Country Councillor. He was on the Australian Dental Association Federal Council and has always been keen to give back to the profession that has been his life. He has tutored student dentists at the Oral Health Centre in Perth.