What are the signs of gum disease? A short guide

Most people have seen adverts on TV relating to the early signs of gum disease.

So, many people assume incorrectly that the only sign of gum disease you have to look out for is bleeding gums when you brush. This is not the case, and for different people, gum disease can present with a wide range of issues, some of which may not be easily explained away by hard brushing.

So, with that in mind, what should you keep an eye out for if you suspect you have gum disease? A dentist Coorparoo explains below.

Red gums

If you notice when you look in the mirror while brushing that your gums look red and inflamed, you may have gum disease.

This is caused by inflammation, which is the body’s response to high levels of bacteria. This redness can be managed with over-the-counter mouthwash, but if it persists, then you need to see your dental team as soon as possible. During this appointment, you may be referred to a hygienist to have a scale and polish performed, which will remove the plaque that is hidden below the gum line and will enable the swelling to recede.

Bleeding when brushing

Bleeding when brushing may or may not be a good determining factor when it comes to recognising gum disease.

On the one hand, yes, gum that is infected and suffering from periodontal disease is more likely to bleed when brushed. But, it may also be a sign of overly aggressive brushing. So, if you aren’t sure what the cause of your bleeding is, switch to a toothbrush that will click when it is pressed too hard against your gums. If the bleeding subsides, then there is nothing to worry about!

woman tooth brushing


Sore gums can also be a sign of gum disease or, once again, be due to hard brushing or even food allergies.

If you notice persistent sore gums throughout the day, then it is well worth contacting your dental team for more information.

Tooth length changes

No, the teeth don’t actually become shorter when you have gum disease, but visually, it is a sign of extreme inflammation. In some cases, minor gaps between teeth may disappear due to inflamed gums. Interestingly, in the more advanced gum disease, your teeth may appear longer as the gums recede. If you notice either of these signs, contact your dental team right away.

Bad breath

Persistent bad breath can indicate that something is amiss with the bacteria in your mouth. Therefore, if you suffer from persistent halitosis, it is well worth booking a check-up with your dental team for deep cleaning.

Loose teeth

This is a sign of advanced gum disease and indicates that the tendons around the teeth are being destroyed by bacteria. If you have loose teeth linked to gum disease, your dental team will likely perform a scale and polish to remove the plaque and then, depending on the condition of the teeth, they may perform splinting to prevent the tooth from becoming looser.


Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.


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