Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: What's the Difference and How to Prevent Them

Gingivitis and periodontitis are diseases affecting the gums, but they are often confused. Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that causes inflammation and redness in the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. It's a relatively mild form of gum disease, but if left untreated, can lead to more serious issues.

Periodontitis, on the other hand, is a severe form of inflammation that damages the soft tissue and, without intervention, can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. It can lead to tooth loss or worse, increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and other serious health problems.

Understanding Gingivitis


Gingivitis happens when plaque, a naturally-occurring sticky film containing bacteria, builds up on teeth and hardens, leading to tartar, irritation and inflammation in the gum tissue. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Other factors can increase the risk of developing gingivitis, including smoking, age, dry mouth, poor nutrition, hormonal changes, certain diseases, and certain medications.

The most common symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums, bad breath, and bleeding when brushing or flossing. You may also experience receding gums and formation of pockets between teeth and gums. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult with a dental professional quickly to prevent progression to more severe gum diseases.

What is Periodontitis?


Periodontitis is usually a progression from untreated gingivitis. When the plaque and tartar are not removed from the teeth, they can make the gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.

There are many causes of periodontitis including decreased oral hygiene and genetic risk factors leading to plaque buildup. Other risk factors include smoking, diabetes, hormonal changes in females, medications that lessen the flow of saliva, and certain illnesses.

Symptoms of periodontitis can range from bad breath, red or swollen gums, tender or bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and receding gums or longer-appearing teeth. These symptoms should not be ignored as they can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: What is the difference?


What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis? The primary difference lies in the severity and progression of the disease. Gingivitis is an initial mild form of gum disease and is often the precursor to the more serious condition, periodontitis.

Prevention Measures for Gingivitis


Preventing gingivitis begins with good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and regular dental check-ups are essential. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet can significantly lower your risk of developing gingivitis.

It's also crucial to recognize the early signs of gingivitis, such as swollen, red gums and bleeding during brushing or flossing. If you notice these signs, consult with a dental professional immediately.

How to Prevent Periodontitis


Preventing periodontitis follows similar guidelines to preventing gingivitis since the former often develops from the latter. The best defense against periodontitis is maintaining excellent oral hygiene. Regular dental check-ups are also crucial for early detection and treatment.

If you have a family history of the disease, you might benefit from additional preventive measures. These could include prescription mouthwash or specialized toothbrushes or toothpaste.

Take Steps to Protect Your Gums and Oral Health Today


The journey to excellent oral health begins with understanding the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis. It's crucial to remember that while gingivitis is mild and reversible, periodontitis is a more severe condition that can lead to tooth loss and other health complications. Prevention is always the best approach when it comes to oral health.

If you notice any signs of gum disease, visit Perio Atlanta at our office. We are experts in helping patients restore their oral health and retain their natural teeth. Call (404) 352-3123 to schedule an appointment today.

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