What’s the Difference? Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a recent study about periodontal disease. It found that almost 50 percent of Americans over the age of 30 has some form of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is more commonly known as gum disease. There are several different forms of it. Some are more serious than others, but it is important to be able to identify the symptoms. Gum disease can easily be misdiagnosed, especially by people who don’t know what the signs are.

Some are more serious than others, but it is important to be able to identify the symptoms. Gum disease can easily be misdiagnosed, especially by people who don’t know what the signs are.

Gingivitis and periodontitis are two forms of gum disease that are related. Each has its own set of symptoms, consequences and treatment options. Below, we’re exploring the difference between gingivitis vs periodontitis.  You will be able to identify each disease and learn what to do about them.

Below, we’re exploring the difference between gingivitis vs periodontitis. You will be able to identify each disease and learn what to do about them.

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: Symptoms and Causes

Gingivitis is sometimes mistaken for periodontitis and vice versa. They are both stages of periodontal disease. But they are distinct things, so it’s important to be able to tell which might be affecting you.

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, and it can develop into periodontitis if it’s not treated. If you are paying close attention to your oral hygiene routine and your overall mouth health, you should be able to spot some of the symptoms early on.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

Gingivitis causes changes to your gums. Healthy gums are pale pink, firm and fitted tightly around your teeth. Gums infected with gingivitis are usually swollen or puffy. They may change from pale pink to dusky or dark red.

Gingivitis gums also tend to bleed easily when you brush your teeth and could be tender. They may also begin to pull away from your teeth. Finally, one of the most noticeable symptoms of gingivitis is bad breath that leaves an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Symptoms of Periodontitis

When gum diseases advances to the stage of periodontitis, the symptoms become even more painful and harder to ignore.

Like with gingivitis, gums will be swollen and are likely to bleed easily. But when you reach this stage of periodontal disease, things have advanced even further.

Your gums will begin to pull away from your teeth even more. This will cause your teeth to appear larger than they normally do. You may also notice new spaces developing in between your teeth and pus forming between your teeth. Your teeth may fit together differently when you bite.

Periodontitis can also cause painful chewing and even worse bad breath.

What Are the Causes?

Both gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by a buildup of plaque. Plaque forms naturally on your teeth and can build up quickly. This is true especially if you aren’t brushing your teeth or taking care of your oral hygiene.

There are some lifestyle and economic factors that can also increase your risk of gingivitis and periodontitis. These include smoking, pregnancy, and genetics.

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: Who Does it Affect?

When comparing gingivitis vs periodontitis you should know that not everyone is at equal risk for both.

For example, younger children and teenagers are not very likely to develop periodontitis. They could  be at risk for gingivitis. There are a few cases of aggressive periodontitis can begin in childhood, but that isn’t common.

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: How Do You Treat It?

When periodontal disease is at its earliest stage — the gingivitis stage — it is relatively easy to treat. You do have to be serious about your oral healthcare routine. Most likely you’ll be able to treat gingivitis with at-home remedies. When things progress to periodontitis, treatment is not as easy.

Treating Gingivitis

You’ll want to make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You may also to consider purchasing an electric toothbrush if you don’t already have one. You should rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash, which targets plaque in hard to reach spots. Flossing daily is also important for gum health, and should be a part of your routine.
As soon as you notice any signs of gingivitis you should make an appointment with your dentist. Follow his or her guidance to treat the problem and prevent any further infection.

Treating Periodontitis

Because periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease, it is not as easy to treat as gingivitis. Depending on the stage of your periodontitis, your dentist will recommend one of several options. This might include surgery.

Non-surgical options include:

  • Using dental instruments to remove bacteria from your teeth and gums
  • Root planning, which smooths root surfaces, removes bacteria, and discourages further buildup
  • Topical or oral antibiotics to end infection-causing bacteria

Surgical options include:

  • Flap surgery, which lifts a section of your gums so that the root can be cleaned better
  • Soft tissue grafts, which reinforces damaged soft tissue caused by receding gums
  • Bone grafts, which helps prevent tooth loss by holding your tooth in place. This surgery is performed if periodontitis has caused damage to the bone surrounding your tooth root.
  • Guided tissue regeneration, which encourages the regrowth of any bone that was destroyed by bacteria

The treatment of periodontitis is much more complex than the treatment of gingivitis. In order to prevent gum disease from advancing, you should see your dentist for regular appointments. You always want to follow the guidelines he or she provides for your dental hygiene.

Curious About More Ways to Prevent Gum Disease?

The best way to avoid ever having to deal with gum disease is to practice good preventative dentistry habits. Gingivitis is treatable but it can still have a serious impact on your overall mouth health, and things only get worse if the gum disease is allowed to progress to the periodontitis stage.

If you have already noticed symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. With an appointment, you’ll get a better sense of what you’re dealing with. It can help you decide how to go forward with treatment.

For any additional questions about gingivitis vs periodontitis or to schedule an appointment, please contact us at any time.

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