College of Dentistry Patient Care: Gum Problems

The gums (or gingiva) wrap around your teeth as they protrude from the jawbone into your mouth.  In a state of health the gums are coral pink in color and are tightly attached to the teeth. It is normal for some individuals with dark complexions to have areas of dark pigment on the gums.

Inflammation of the gums or gingivitis happens when bacteria invade the small crevice between the gums and the tooth. Signs of gingivitis are bleeding of the gums, redness, or swelling. Gingivitis is not normally uncomfortable so you may not see early signs of the disease.  The first sign you may see is a small amount of blood in the basin after you brush your teeth.

Gingivitis can be reversed by careful cleaning of the crevice between the gums and the teeth.  Daily brushing and flossing are essential to keeping the gums free of bacteria. Some mouth rinses like Listerine also help to reduce gingivitis.