These two gum conditions are often confused, but it’s essential to understand their differences because they have different symptoms, causes, and treatment approaches.
Gingivitis is the earliest and mildest form of gum disease. It’s a reversible condition that causes inflammation of the gums due to plaque buildup on teeth. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease that can cause severe damage to the teeth and gums, leading to tooth loss if not treated in time. It’s characterized by inflammation of the gums, receding gums, and pockets between the teeth and gums. Periodontitis can also cause bad breath, loose teeth, and changes in how your teeth fit together when you bite.
It’s essential to recognize the symptoms of both gingivitis and periodontitis and to seek treatment from a dentist or periodontist as soon as possible.
How Does Periodontal Disease Progress?
Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, is a common dental problem caused by plaque buildup around teeth and gums. Failure to maintain regular oral hygiene can cause plaque to harden, leading to gum irritation and inflammation.
As gum inflammation progresses, it can cause separation between the gums and teeth, leading to loose teeth. This separation also creates space for bacteria to grow under the gums, closer to the roots of the teeth. The buildup of bacteria in these plaque deposits can cause gum inflammation, bleeding, and swelling, which can be noticed while brushing your teeth.
If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more severe gum disease. It’s crucial to recognize and treat the symptoms of gingivitis early on to prevent it from progressing to periodontitis, which can cause irreversible damage to teeth and gums.
Gingivitis Signs And Symptoms
Some common signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Itchy gums around the teeth
- Red and swollen gums
- Gums that bleed
- Bad breath
- Sores inside the mouth due to excess bacteria
- Gums are tender and sore
- Receding gums
It is crucial to be aware of these symptoms and visit a dentist as soon as you notice any changes in your oral health. Gingivitis can be easily treated when caught early. Otherwise, if bacterial growth isn’t treated, it may advance and ultimately result in tooth loss due to tissue destruction surrounding the teeth.
Progression To Periodontitis
Periodontitis is a severe gum infection that can result in tooth loss if left untreated. It is a common condition that often goes unnoticed in its earliest stage, gingivitis. However, once periodontitis sets in, the patient will experience noticeable symptoms that can no longer be ignored.
As the bacteria continue to spread, it forms small pockets where debris from food and plaque accumulate, going deeper below the gum line. The toxins produced by the plaque start breaking down the connective tissues that anchor the teeth in place, resulting in loose teeth that may eventually fall out.
Symptoms of periodontitis include itchy, red, and swollen gums, gums that bleed, bad breath, sores inside the mouth due to excess bacteria, tender and sore gums, and receding gums.
If you suspect you have periodontitis, it is important to seek treatment immediately to prevent tooth loss. Treatment options include professional cleaning, scaling and root planing, and in severe cases, periodontal surgery. Regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene habits can also help prevent periodontitis from developing in the first place.
If gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, it’s important to seek dental care immediately to prevent tooth loss. Fortunately, periodontitis can be managed, and early intervention can prevent the need for tooth extraction and possibly dental implants.
To treat periodontitis, Dr. Perrone may perform a scaling and root planing to remove plaque that has formed below the gum tissues. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to pull the gums away from the teeth and remove plaque deposits at the root.
In cases where the gum tissue is severely infected, Dr. Perrone may prescribe antibiotics and assess the need for bone and tissue grafts to replace infected areas that cannot fully heal. If the gums are heavily inflamed and visibly pulling away from the teeth, a gum flap surgery may be necessary. This procedure involves removing plaques and buildup, along with pockets of bacteria around the teeth. Loose excess gum tissue is removed and the remaining tissue is stitched up so that the gums can fit snugly around the teeth again.
Can Gum Disease Be Avoided?
According to statistics, nearly 70% of Americans suffer from early symptoms of gingivitis or gum inflammation, which often go unnoticed. It is crucial to prioritize the health of your teeth, gums, and mouth by staying vigilant and taking preventative measures.
The following steps can be taken to prevent gum disease:
- Establishing a routine of regular brushing, flossing, and using antibacterial mouthwash
- Quitting smoking, as it increases the likelihood of developing gum disease and decreases the chances of successful treatment
- Reducing stress, which can strengthen the body’s natural immune system
- Avoiding habits such as teeth grinding, which can apply pressure to the roots and increase the risk of gum disease
If you experience discomfort or notice changes in your oral health, it is highly recommended to visit Dr. Perrone promptly. While regular dental check-ups twice a year are essential for maintaining good oral health, seeking immediate dental attention outside of these appointments can prevent potential complications.
If you require antibiotics or surgery, seeing Dr. Perrone as soon as possible is essential. Dr. Perrone offers comprehensive dental services, and our team of dental professionals is dedicated to providing the best possible care for our patients. Contact us today if you have any concerns about your oral health.
Marielaina Perrone, DDS, is a highly experienced and dedicated dental professional passionate about delivering exceptional patient care. With over 20 years of experience in the dental industry, Dr. Perrone is widely regarded as a leading authority in her field, with a reputation for providing innovative solutions and personalized care to her patients.