Normal, healthy gums look different depending on genetics and skin color. In general, they should not be red or puffy, two signs that you may be in the early stages of gum disease.

Gum disease is reversible when caught early. However, if left untreated, your quality of life may be affected. Worse, you could eventually suffer from tooth loss.

Preventing these consequences begins with understanding the healthy and unhealthy gums. In this guide, we’ll help you tell the difference and learn how to improve your gum health.

Signs of Normal Healthy Gums

Normal, healthy gums are light pink, brown, or black in color and firm to the touch. They may be darker at the base before fading to a paler color near the tooth. You should see a faint outline of your teeth beneath the gumline.

Gums should not gap away from the teeth. They should hug the enamel tightly before curving away into the gumline. The gumline should not be lower or higher around certain teeth.

Healthy gums should not bleed. It is normal for gums to bleed after nicking them with floss or burning or cutting them with foods or beverages. But they should not bleed or have sores for no apparent reason.

Signs of Poor Gum Health

You don’t have to be a dentist to spot unhealthy gums. Redness, swelling, bleeding, pain, and a receding gumline are all signs that you need to schedule an appointment with a dentist ASAP. Here’s why.

Redness and Swelling

Redness and swelling are indications of inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection. If your gums are red and puffy to the touch, it may be a sign that you have a gum infection.


If red, swollen gums are left untreated, they may start to bleed. Bleeding happens when plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth attracts bacteria. These bacteria can cause an infection.

Bleeding gums may also be a sign that you are brushing your teeth too hard or from another condition, like diabetes. But if your gums regularly bleed after flossing or brushing with normal pressure, it could be a sign of gingivitis.


Sore, painful gums can happen after brushing your teeth too hard or obtaining a mouth injury. However, when pain or soreness comes with redness and inflammation, it is often a sign of a gum infection.

Receding Gums

Receding gums happen when the gum tissue pulls away from your teeth. It may look like a gap has formed between your gums and your teeth. In severe cases, you may start to see the roots of your teeth.

There are many reasons why your gums may start to recede, including brushing your teeth too hard. Smoking and poor oral hygiene can also lead to gum recession due to periodontitis.

What Is the Main Cause of Poor Gum Health?

Poor oral hygiene is one of the main causes of poor gum health. Not flossing and brushing your teeth can lead to gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is a serious infection of the gums. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and features swollen, red, and bleeding gums.

Without treatment, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis comes in three stages: mild, moderate, and advanced. The longer gum disease goes untreated, the harder it is to reverse, and may ultimately lead to tooth loss.

How to Keep Your Gums Healthy

Proper gum health is crucial for supporting your teeth. If you want to hold onto your natural teeth for as long as possible, consider the following tips for healthier gums.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Practicing good oral hygiene is one of the best things you can do for your gums. That includes brushing your teeth twice daily every day, flossing at least once daily, and drinking plenty of water to prevent dry mouth.

When brushing, use a soft bristle brush and place your toothbrush at a 45° angle to your gumline. That way, the bristles will get beneath your gumline, targeting hard-to-reach food or plaque buildup.

When flossing, avoid snapping the floss into your gumline, as this can injure your gum tissue and create areas for bacteria to hide. Angle the floss to hug each side of your tooth, gently sliding it beneath the gumline for best results.

Make a Few Lifestyle Changes

According to the CDC, people who smoke have a two times greater risk of developing periodontitis and are less likely to benefit from gum disease treatments. Quitting smoking can greatly improve your gum health.

Underlying conditions like diabetes can also worsen unhealthy gums. Follow your doctor’s guidelines for managing your health conditions to ensure they don’t negatively impact your oral health.

Finally, consider incorporating more vitamin C into your diet. Enjoy more vitamin C-rich foods or take a supplement, as this nutrient helps to strengthen and nourish gum tissues.

Schedule Regular Dental Appointments

Even with excellent oral hygiene, you cannot always get your teeth perfectly clean by brushing and flossing alone. That’s why experts recommend visiting the dentist at least twice per year.

Depending on your oral health, your dentist may recommend attending even more frequent dental appointments. For example, people who drink alcohol or smoke may need to visit the dentist more frequently for optimal oral health.

You may also need more frequent visits to the dentist if you require treatment. For example, you may need to attend multiple visits outside of your regularly scheduled two per year if you need treatments for cavities or gingivitis.

Need to Schedule a Dental Appointment?

The signs of normal, healthy gums include a light pink color and firmness to the touch. Your gums shouldn’t be red, swollen, bleed, or recede away from the tooth. But if they do, a dentist can help you get your gum health back on track.

Are you ready to schedule a dental appointment to support your gum health? Garden Springs Dental’s service, expertise, and advanced techniques are only a few reasons why we are the best dentist’s office in Lexington.

Contact us today to schedule your first visit!