Gum Diseases: Differences between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

October 20, 2020

Gum Diseases: Differences between Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gum Diseases: Differences between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Gingivitis and periodontitis are inextricably linked. An ignored first stage of periodontal disease - gingivitis - can progress to periodontitis. This chronic inflammatory disease affects the periodontium: the tissues, ligaments, and bones surrounding and hold the teeth in place. Untreated periodontitis can severely damage these structures and eventually lead to tooth loss.


There are over 700 different types of bacteria in a healthy mouth, but most of them are harmless. Usually, bacteria that cause periodontal disease do not cause any problems, but they can become harmful under certain circumstances. This happens when a layer of food bacteria and particles, called plaque, isn't removed by regularly brushing your teeth.


Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in humans and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, so it's important to be aware of it and learn how to prevent it.


In this article, we will explain the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis, the causes of it, and ways to prevent it.


The Causes and Symptoms of Gingivitis


The immediate cause of gingivitis is plaque formation, especially in places where the teeth are crowded, their position is incorrect, and there are no contact points between the upper and lower teeth. Inflammation is also caused by incorrect prosthetic restorations, carelessly made tooth fillings, and tartar.


There are many symptoms of it, and the main one is bleeding. It may be spontaneous or caused by microtraumas (hard food, toothbrushes). Also, almost always swelling and pain occurs.


The medical examination will notice changes in the gums' shape and consistency - excessive growth and the so-called "soft" gum. Interestingly, such symptoms accompany EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). It is essential to keep this in mind as a correctly diagnosed patient should start Ehlers-Danlos syndrome treatment.


Inflammation is also often associated with the presence of a gingival fissure and a change in the color of the gums (from normal light pink, it changes to red and then to bluish).


What's the Difference between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?


There are some visible differences between gingivitis and periodontitis. The most apparent are the occurrence in periodontitis of periodontal pockets, bone defects of the alveolar process, and loosening and loss of teeth.


Bleeding gums when brushing should be a warning of periodontitis around the corner. Bleeding indicates gingivitis that is already ongoing. Periodontitis, on the other hand, is a condition in which inflammation affects the tissues and degrades bone tissue, which in the long run, can lead to tooth loss.


Periodontitis is an irreversible disease, so it is important to stop its development as soon as possible. This can be done by using dental treatments and therapeutic antibacterial preparations.




Orally and topically administered antibiotics are an effective form of therapy. In less advanced cases, herbal rinses (e.g., from sage or oak bark) are also useful. We can also use healing toothpaste and gel.


When the tartar causing inflammation is large, a scaling procedure, i.e., removing tartar with an ultrasonic device, can be performed in the dental office. When dealing with acute inflammation, surgical treatment of periodontal pockets will be necessary. This treatment aims to remove bacterial changes in the periodontium by eliminating periodontal pockets, restoring the connective tissue attachment and regenerating the associated soft tissues, and reconstruction of the alveolar bone.


Prevention of Gingivitis


To avoid treatment, the most important thing is to focus on prevention. It is especially important to prevent plaque build-up as inflammation development depends on the number and type of plaque bacteria, saliva components, diet, and hygiene practices.

At home:

Use the correct toothbrush and effective healing pastes. Remember to brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes and choose the bristles' stiffness right so that they do not hurt your gums. Also, don't forget to use floss or water-based irrigators.


At the dentist's office:

The dentist will assess your oral cavity condition by tinting plaque (using tablets and solutions). You can arrange varnishing of teeth and bare roots, removing tartar, polishing tooth crowns, and removing tooth discoloration.


The doctor will also teach you how to choose gum massage stimulators and show you how to massage the gums yourself properly. Besides, remember to check your oral health every six months (when some medical conditions are occurring -every 2-3 months).




Remember that when you notice any disturbing symptoms, the first step should be to visit a dentist who can diagnose periodontal disease and advise you on treating it best. Sometimes the reasons can be surprising - for example, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.


There are many different treatments available to help keep your inflammation from getting worse. A periodontist who specializes in gum disease will help you choose the right treatment method so that you can smile again!


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