Gingivitis signs and symptoms

Posted on May 4, 2022 in General oral health

Black older woman with younger black boy gardening in a gardenGingivitis is a common, early, and generally mild form of gum disease (periodontal disease). Gingivitis occurs when there is a build-up of bacteria and plaque infecting the gums. This can cause redness, irritation, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding of the gum tissue. Most commonly, gingivitis is caused by poor oral hygiene, which is why it’s important to practice proper oral health habits like brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist regularly. 

Gingivitis should be treated seriously since it can lead to more severe forms of gum disease like periodontitis and potentially result in tooth loss. Let’s explore the symptoms of gingivitis and the signs you need to look out for if you are at risk.

What are the symptoms of gingivitis?1

Since gingivitis often doesn’t cause pain, many people don’t know they have it. For that reason, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of gingivitis and see your dentist or hygienist regularly for cleaning and checkups as they’ll be able to detect any signs of the infection and help you reverse it. 

Healthy gums are firm, have light pink color to them, and fit closely around the teeth. However, the telltale signs and symptoms that you may have unhealthy gums or gingivitis include:

  • Persistent bad breath  
  • Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
  • Swollen or puffy gums 
  • Dark red gums 
  • Receding gums 
  • Tender or painful gums 

When to see a dentist 2

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should see a dentist to evaluate the condition of your gums and offer tips for restoring your gums to good health. The sooner care is received, the better your likelihood of reversing any damage done and preventing gingivitis from progressing to more serious problems like periodontitis or tooth loss. To help you get ready for your appointment, make a list of: 

  • Any symptoms you are experiencing, including the ones that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Questions you’d like to ask your dentist or hygienist 
  • Personal information, such as any medical conditions 
  • All of the medications you are currently taking 

Final thoughts 

It’s important to remember that gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease and can easily be treated and reversed without any permanent damage when caught early on. You have the best chance for successful treatment or prevention by adopting a daily routine of good oral care that includes brushing and flossing, as well as seeing your dentist regularly. Lastly, it’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms of gingivitis and monitor your gums continuously to ensure optimum health. 


1 American Academy of Periodontology. “Gum Disease Symptoms.” Gum Disease Symptoms |, American Academy of Periodontology, 2019,

2 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, August 4). Gingivitis. Mayo Clinic.