What Does Gum Disease Look Like?

gum-disease-look-like Credit: Universal Images Group Editorial/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Signs of early gum disease, or gingivitis, include redness and swelling of gums and gums that bleed easily. When gum disease progresses to periodontitis, tissue and bone loss occur that lead to loose teeth. Persistent bad breath, tooth sensitivity and pain during chewing may also occur when gum disease is present.

Gingivitis develops when plaque and tartar accumulate on the teeth, harboring bacteria. The gums become inflamed and bleed easily during tooth brushing. Gingivitis is not usually painful, and individuals can reverse the process by practicing regular and efficient oral hygiene that includes brushing the teeth after meals, flossing daily and having regular, professional dental cleanings.

If gingivitis remains untreated, plaque grows beneath the gum lines, and the gums begin to retract from the teeth, leaving pockets in which bacteria accumulate and cause infection. This chronic inflammation causes a breakdown of gum and bone tissue. Even though symptoms may be mild, teeth may loosen, and a dentist may have to remove them.

Symptoms of gum disease often develop during middle age, and it is more prevalent in men than in women. Some people have a genetic predisposition to developing gum disease. Smokers, diabetics, women experiencing hormonal changes and those who use certain medications are more susceptible to developing gum disease.