Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

As far back as written history goes, humans knew that it was important to clean their teeth. Before toothbrushes, Ancient Egyptians used something called a “chewstick,” a piece of wood that was frayed on one side (bristles) and pointy on the other (floss).

The dental game changed in China, during the Tang Dynasty of 619-907 A.D. That’s when the ancestor of the modern toothbrush was created. It had a bone or bamboo handle and bristles that came from the coats of Siberian hogs.

Since that time, people have been able to take better care of their mouths, getting rid of bacteria that thrive in the dark and moist environment. Brushing and flossing prevent many dental issues, like gum disease.

What Are the Types of Gum Disease?

Plaque and tartar are the results of microorganisms like bacteria that aren’t cleaned off your teeth. The buildup of these becomes a sticky film that decays teeth and erodes gums. Gradually, if it’s not taken care of, this buildup causes gingivitis, the beginning stage of gum disease. When it advances further, it becomes a more severe disease called periodontitis.

At Addison Dental, we see people with gingivitis and periodontitis almost every day. It’s a common condition, but a lot of people aren’t sure what each one is. Knowing the basics of each oral health problem helps you prevent or care for your teeth and gums.

In general, gingivitis occurs when healthy gums start to become inflamed. The swollen gums are caused by microorganisms hiding under the surface. However, gingivitis doesn’t always show obvious symptoms, so by the time you realize there’s a problem, it could have progressed into a gum disease called periodontitis.

Maybe your gums are swollen or bleeding, and you want to know if you have gingivitis vs periodontitis. A trip to Addison Dental is the best way to learn what’s going on with your dental health. In the meantime, this guide gives you an overview of each type of gum disease.

What is Gingivitis?

One of the least intimidating forms of dental issues, gingivitis can be treated and fixed. In this mild stage, your gums are inflamed, and other symptoms may or may not occur off and on. While you’re dealing with gingivitis, you need to pay attention to the little signs that give it away, so you can reverse the damage early.

Signs of Gingivitis

If you pay attention to your mouth when you brush, you’ll be able to see the telltale signals that there’s a problem starting. When gingivitis is starting, it shows up with symptoms such as gums that are redder than usual or gum line swelling.

Other signs could include bleeding more than usual when you brush or floss. If this happens often, gum inflammation is probably going on, even if you can’t see it. Random bleeding in the gums is another giveaway that you need to fix a problem.

How to Treat Gingivitis

Treating gingivitis is as simple as stepping up your oral healthcare game. If you’re not brushing and flossing regularly, make it a daily habit. If you are, and you still have problems, you may need to look at your techniques and verify that you’re using the right angles.

Regular dental checkups are part of an optimal oral hygiene routine. When was the last time you visited your dentist? Anything over six months means it’s time to make an appointment. With a dental exam, we’ll catch any developing issues early. As gingivitis progresses, it turns into more than bleeding gums. Serious gum infection results in bone loss and other major health conditions.

Professional dental cleanings by a hygienist use specialized tools to remove tartar and plaque buildup. The dentist may also suggest an antiseptic mouthwash prescription. These small, simple steps can eliminate gingivitis before it becomes a more severe form of gum disease.

Periodontitis Explained

People who develop gingivitis may ignore it or not realize they have it. If left untreated, periodontitis develops. At that point, only a dentist can help you manage the problem.

Periodontal disease in its mildest form shows up as inflammation in the periodontium. This is the gum tissue and bone that hold your teeth to your jaw. When too many harmful bacteria and plaque grow in these areas, they form pockets under the gum line.

The early stage slowly turns into aggressive periodontitis. At that point, the problem moves into the rest of the body. Your body’s immune system fights the infection, but it continues to spread without good oral hygiene and dental care.

How Do You Know if You Have Periodontitis?

Periodontal diseases worsen gradually, in stages. The symptoms increase in severity as excess plaque and bacterial growth spread. Early periodontitis is more annoying than scary, including symptoms like bright red gums and persistent unpleasant breath. But the gum disease gingivitis is reversible, and periodontitis is not.

As your teeth become sensitive and your overall gum health declines, this untreated periodontitis becomes visible. Poor tooth alignment results from loose teeth. Receding gums replace healthy gum tissue. Eventual tooth loss happens when the connective tissue can’t hold your tooth in place any longer.

Chronic periodontitis has a lot of other risk factors, too. It’s the result of an infection in your body that has been there a long time. This form of gum disease can cause further damage that turns deadly. If you’ve been told you have periodontal disease, it’s not something to ignore.

As your body is fighting infections, it’s important that you see your doctor and dentist regularly. Dealing with the combination of poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease won’t get better without help, especially if you have a poor diet. You’ll end up with lost bone and gums as well as medical issues from the chronic inflammatory response, like cardiovascular disease.

How to Treat Periodontitis

Gum disease in the advanced stage of periodontitis is harder to treat. There’s no quick fix like there is when you want to prevent gingivitis. It’ll take a professional cleaning and proper oral hygiene consistently at home.

Your oral health is important. It’s not just receding gums. There’s an infection going on when you have gingivitis and periodontitis. Your dentist needs to get in your mouth and clean out the infection, usually with antibiotics and root planing. This procedure uses tools to get under the soft tissue, removing the debris your gums collected when they were swollen. With a clean gum line, the gums reattach to the teeth.

In advanced cases, a professional dental cleaning isn’t enough. The plaque spreads, and the gums collect debris anyway. At that point, when your periodontal disease doesn’t improve with care, surgical treatment is the next step.

In a surgery designed for treating gum disease, your dentist opens the swollen gums so they can get to the root of the tooth and clean it. When the roots are cleaned, the gum tissue gets sewn back together. Then, it gradually reattaches to the tooth. While the surgery is only minorly invasive, it’s not necessary if you know how to prevent gum disease and take care of your teeth and gums.

Pay Attention to the Signs of Gum Disease

Not all gingivitis has to lead to periodontal disease. However, this advanced gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Luckily, with early detection and a thorough dental cleaning regularly, it’s possible to avoid it altogether.

Gum disease in its mild form, gingivitis, is easy to care for. Left untreated, it becomes an advanced stage of gum disease you don’t want to have.  Preventing periodontal disease and all of its consequences is simple. Practice good oral hygiene, and visit Addison Dental for your checkups regularly. We’ll stop gum disease and other dental issues at the root!

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