What are the signs of gum problems? Gum symptoms include redness, swelling, pain, sores, ulcers and bleeding. Gum symptoms most commonly are caused by poor oral hygiene that results in inflammation or infection of the gums. The symptoms may be constant or variable and may worsen when eating or drinking. If gum pain is present, it may be described as sharp, dull, stabbing, burning or throbbing, ranging in intensity from mild to severe. Depending on the cause, gum symptoms may be present in only a small part of a gum (sore or ulcer), or at the gum line (periodontitis). Other conditions (bleeding, swelling, or cyanosis, a bluish discoloration of the gum) may affect all of the gums. Gingivitis and other types of inflammatory conditions are among the most common causes of gum symptoms. In other cases, gum symptoms may be related to a chronic underlying disease that affects other regions of the body. For example, cyanosis of the gum is characteristic of many chronic lung diseases in which the body does not receive adequate oxygen. Vitamin deficiency diseases or conditions, such as scurvy and iron deficiency anemia, can be associated with symptoms that involve both the mouth and the gums. Disorders of the immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), or Behcet’s syndrome, often produce symptoms in the mouth and gums. Infections of the gums (gingivitis), skin and soft tissue (cellulitis), or bone (osteomyelitis) are further causes of gum symptoms. The duration and course of gum symptoms vary widely, depending on the cause. Symptoms caused by inflammation often have a sudden onset. In other cases, gum symptoms resulting from underlying vitamin deficiencies develop slowly and persist or worsen over time. The sudden onset of bluish gums, especially if accompanied by shortness of breath or rapid heart rate (tachycardia), may be a sign of low oxygen in the blood (hypoxia). Seek immediate medical care (call 911), if you develop cyanosis. If your gum symptoms are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.