Healthy gums should be pink, firm and keep your teeth securely in place. Your gums should not bleed when you touch or brush them.
Gum disease is not always painful and you may be unaware you have it.
It's important to have regular dental check-ups.
Early symptoms – gingivitis
The initial symptoms of gum disease can include:
- red and swollen gums
- bleeding gums after brushing or flossing your teeth
This stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.
Advanced symptoms – periodontitis
If gingivitis is untreated, the tissues and bone that support the teeth can also become affected. This is known as periodontitis or periodontal disease.
Symptoms of periodontitis can include:
- bad breath (halitosis)
- an unpleasant taste in your mouth
- loose teeth that can make eating difficult
- gum abscesses (collections of pus that develop under your gums or teeth)
Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis
In rare cases, a condition called acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) can develop suddenly.
The symptoms of ANUG are usually more severe than those of gum disease and can include:
- bleeding, painful gums
- painful ulcers
- receding gums in between your teeth
- bad breath
- a metallic taste in your mouth
- excess saliva in your mouth
- difficulty swallowing or talking
- a high temperature (fever)
When to see a dentist
You should make an appointment to see your dentist if you think you may have gum disease or ANUG.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE