Understanding the Difference Between Periodontitis and Gingivitis
Posted on 2/8/2021 by Pine Belt Periodontics
|Gum disease occurs in stages, from gingivitis to moderate gum disease to advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis and periodontitis have different symptoms as well as different treatments. Today's blog will help you understand the difference between these two phases of gum disease.
What is Gingivitis?
When you do not brush and floss your teeth properly, bacteria and food debris accumulate and form a sticky film known as plaque. If plaque is not cleaned off, it hardens into tartar. Unlike plaque, tartar cannot be removed with normal brushing and flossing, so it builds up on the surfaces of teeth, between teeth, and along the gum line. Bacteria, plaque, and tartar irritate your gum tissue and cause inflammation, resulting in gingivitis, the earliest phase of gum disease.
Gingivitis is characterized by red, swollen, and tender gums that may bleed when you brush your teeth. You might also have bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth. When gingivitis is caught early enough, it can often be reversed before it has the chance to develop into periodontitis. Gingivitis is treated by professionally cleaning your teeth to remove all the plaque and tartar buildup, as well as implementing a strict oral hygiene routine for you to follow at home. We might sometimes prescribe a special mouthwash or antibiotics as well.
What is Periodontitis?
If gingivitis is not caught and treated early enough, though, it will advance into a stage of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis cannot be reversed since by this stage it has already impacted your teeth and bones along with your gum tissue. Periodontitis causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, creating “gum pockets” that trap food debris and bacteria and accelerate tooth decay. Gum recession also weakens your teeth and the bones around them, resulting in loose teeth that can eventually fall out. In fact, periodontitis is the top cause of tooth loss among adults.
In addition to visually receding gums and loose teeth, advanced periodontal disease can also result in oral abcesses and sensitive teeth. Periodontitis is usually treated with root canal procedures, scaling and root planing, gum pocket reduction, tissue graft surgery, and antibiotics. Since tooth loss is common with advanced periodontitis, treatment would also involve restoring missing teeth using dental implants, bridges, crowns, or dentures. Call our office today if you have questions about gum disease.