What’s the Difference Between Gingivitis & Periodontitis?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the gums around the base of the teeth. According to the CDC, 47.2 percent of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. The likelihood increases all the way to 70.1 percent for adults who are 65 years and older. It can be dangerous or life-threatening if left untreated. But there are stages to this infection that are helpful to understand. Keep reading to learn from your dentist in Corte Madera about what gingivitis and periodontitis are, their signs and symptoms, plus how you can prevent gum disease.

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is gum inflammation and usually precedes periodontitis. In the early stages, plaque accumulates between the teeth. The gums become inflamed and easily bleed during tooth brushing. Though the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly planted.

No irreversible bone damage has occurred, as gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. For patients diagnosed with gingivitis, it is not all doom and gloom. Not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. The major point is that gingivitis is reversible while advanced periodontitis is not.

What Is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is inflammation of the surrounding hard tissues of the teeth. When it develops, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. The immune system’s fight to save your gums is not an easy one.

At this advanced stage of gum disease, the teeth are no longer firmly anchored in place. They become loose and tooth loss often follows.

What Are the Signs of Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

Key signs of gingivitis are your gums being red and swollen, plus they easily bleed when you brush your teeth. You might also notice bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away, even when you brush or chew mint gum.

Symptoms of periodontitis include prolonged gum issues (red, swollen, bleeding), pain when chewing, persistent bad breath, receding gums, and clear pockets between teeth and gums.

Preventive Tips for Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Gingivitis is a clear warning sign from your teeth and gums that you must be more proactive about your oral health. Good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day, regular dental checkups, daily flossing, and using mouthwash can help prevent and reverse gingivitis. If you think you may have gingivitis, you need to see your dentist.

Obviously, if you suspect you may have periodontitis, the sooner you can seek help from your dentist, the better. While these conditions might sound scary, they are treatable – if you catch periodontitis soon enough – and your dentist in Corte Madera is more than qualified to help you get your oral health back on track.

About the Author

Dr. Julie Young earned her dental doctorate from the University of the Pacific. She is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Association with more than two decades of experience. If you need gum disease treatment in Corte Madera, Dr. Young offers deep cleanings, root cleanings, three-month periodontal recall appointments, and frequent monitoring of your oral health. Schedule an appointment on her website or call (415) 924-5300.