WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PERIDONTITIS AND GINGIVITIS?
On the surface, periodontitis and gingivitis might seem like they are the same thing. However, there are a few key differences between these two oral health problems. Firstly, the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets when an individual develops gingivitis. And the bones and tissue that support the teeth are still intact as well. Although this early stage of gum disease is painless, many will experience gingiva-related bleeding, especially when brushing their teeth. Fortunately, if an individual seeks treatment from a licensed dentist, gingivitis will usually clear up within 10 to 14 days without causing too much damage. To treat gingivitis, most dentists will perform a deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Many will also prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse that patients can use before and after brushing to keep their gums healthy and also lower their risk of developing periodontitis.
When an individual develops periodontitis, plaque-causing bacteria can cause the gums and supporting bones to pull away from the teeth over time. As periodontal disease advances even further, deep pockets around the teeth will start to form. To further put this into context, the pocket depth of someone without periodontitis is 1 to 3 mm. By comparison, someone with periodontitis will usually have pocket depths measuring 4 mm or greater. Similar to gingivitis, those with periodontitis will also develop gums that bleed easily; however, most will experience the following:
Along with these symptoms, periodontitis can also cause tooth pain, especially while chewing. It is also worth noting that the disease may not affect all teeth. In some cases, individuals may only develop periodontitis in certain teeth. In either case, the sooner you notice the tell-tale signs of tooth or gum-related problems and seek dental care, the less likely you are to suffer tooth loss.
WHAT CAUSES PERIODONTAL-RELATED ORAL HEALTH PROBLEMS?
While plaque buildup is the most common cause of periodontal problems that can affect the oral cavity, there are others worth noting. According to most dental care professionals, the following can also be contributing factors:
Illnesses – Studies show that chronic illnesses, such as cancer and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), can slow down the immune system and increase the risk of infection. And gum-related infections are no exception in that regard. It is also worth noting that many of the medications prescribed to treat cancer, HIV, and other serious health problems can impede saliva production, which further increases the risk of gum-related infections.
Hormonal changes – Unfortunately, many women experience hormonal changes that put them at risk of developing gum-related oral health problems. And this is especially true for women going through menopause and those who are pregnant.
When it comes to periodontal disease and gingivitis, the approach to treatment is very similar. In either case, most dentists will focus their efforts on preventing these conditions from becoming worse and giving way to tooth loss. As such, many dentists will prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse to their patients and advise them to undergo a deep cleaning or scaling, which is a non-surgical gum treatment, every 6 months to reduce the risk of further complications within the oral cavity.