Gingivitis and Periodontitis: What Are the Differences?

Gingivitis and Periodontitis: What Are the Differences?

Both gingivitis and periodontitis are forms of gum disease caused by the buildup of plaque, a sticky film containing bacteria in the mouth. When plaque hardens into tartar and forms along the gum line, it makes it hard to clean your teeth and gums completely. This buildup irritates and inflames the gums, causing gingivitis—the early stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is actually the main cause of bleeding gums in adults. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     If symptoms of gingivitis are ignored and untreated, they can lead to a serious gum disease called periodontitis or periodontal disease. As periodontitis advances, the inner  layer of the gum and bone pulls away from the teeth and forms pockets. However, if periodontitis is treated early on and proper oral hygiene is maintained, the damage can be stopped. 

The good news is that not all gingivitis leads to periodontitis. Some people with gingivitis get mild symptoms that seem to be manageable. You can prevent or even reverse it by simply brushing your teeth, flossing, and having regular dental cleanings and checkups.

Causes of Gum Disease

Gingivitis (the early stage) and periodontitis (advanced stage) are both gum diseases that are primarily caused by plaque buildup in the teeth. However, there are some contributing factors to periodontal disease.

  • Hormonal changes

This normally happens during the puberty stage, pregnancy, menstruation, and even during the menopausal period, making the gums more sensitive and causing gingivitis to easily develop.

  • Chronic illnesses 

Cancer and HIV patients develop complications that cause chronic dry mouth and sensitive gums. Additionally, people who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal disease and cavities.

  • Medications 

It lessens the flow of saliva, which protects the teeth and gums by plushing away a mixture of acids and bacteria in the mouth. There are also drugs that can  cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.

  • Bad habits 

Smoking is a major risk factor for periodontal disease. It impacts the ability of the body to recover from infections and the infected gums to heal themselves.

  • Poor oral hygiene 

Gingivitis can develop if you are not brushing and flossing on a daily basis.

  • Hereditary 

A family history of dental disease can also be a contributing factor to the development of gum disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Early stages of gum disease may progress without any obvious signs. However, we listed some symptoms of gum disease to raise awareness before it gets serious. 

  • Bleeding gums during and after tooth brushing
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Lingering bad breath 
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums
  • Deep pockets between teeth and gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Bite problem

If you don’t notice any symptoms of gum disease, you may still have some degree of it at some point. To determine if you have developed gum disease early on, the best way to do so is to visit a dentist or a periodontist. 

Stages of Gum Disease

  1. Gingivitis 

It is the early-stage of gum disease. Plaque buildup can be seen on your teeth, causing irritation and swelling. The gums may start to bleed more often. At this stage, the dentist can do a deep cleaning to remove the excess plaque. 

  1. Early Periodontitis

If gingivitis is left untreated, it will usually progress into the early stage of periodontitis or periodontal disease. The gums are usually inflamed and tender to the touch. Its color turns paler than usual as the blood supply is reduced.

At this point, plaque around the teeth starts to harden into a tougher, more damaging state called tartar—causing the damage to accelerate. The bone structures supporting the teeth in your jaw may begin to weaken. 

  1. Moderate Periodontitis

At this stage, the gums will visibly recede and become tender. The tooth enamel will start to decay. Jawbone damage will also start to become noticeable as the teeth begin to loosen. The unpleasant taste in your mouth will become steady as the discharge happens more often. These are signs that infection has set in and the tooth condition is severe.

  1. Advanced Periodontitis

In the advanced stage of periodontitis, the gums will visibly decline, leaving a large portion of your teeth exposed. Many teeth will be loose, even those that look healthy, because infection is attacking the jawbone itself. If gum disease is still untreated at this point, it will eventually lead to tooth loss.

Gum Disease Treatment

Treating gum disease means trying to control the degree of the infection, stopping the progression, and bringing it back to a healthy state. However, treatment options depend on the level of the disease and the status of your overall health. 

Here are some of the treatment options:

  • Deep cleaning

In the early stages of the disease, treatment can be in-depth cleaning—the cleaning that goes under the gum line.

  • Antibiotic gel

It is spread all over the gum pockets after a deep cleaning to control the infection.

  • Enzyme suppressant 

Oral medication is to be taken after a deep cleaning to block certain enzymes in your mouth from breaking down gum tissue.

  • Antibiotic microspheres

Tiny gels are inserted into the pockets of the gum, reducing the size of the pocket and getting rid of bacteria.

  • Graft surgery 

This process uses tissue from another part of your mouth to cover the exposed tooth roots. This will help prevent bone loss or decay.

Gum Disease Prevention

Early stages of gum disease can be reversed and can be prevented from getting worse when proper oral care is practiced. There are preventive measures to reduce how severe the disease is and how fast it develops. These include:

  • Brushing at least twice a day
  • Flossing on a daily basis
  • Rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash 
  • Stop smoking
  • Reducing stress
  • Following a healthy diet
  • Seeing your dentist regularly

If you haven’t seen your dentist for more than 6 months, we suggest you set an appointment for teeth cleaning to remove tartar and plaque buildup from your teeth. The earlier the problem is determined, the sooner it will be taken care of. Our team of dental professionals here at Esteem Dental Care would love to assist you on your journey to a  beautiful and healthy smile! Book an appointment online at You may also call any of our two offices: Ashmore at 0755395009 or Robina at 0756397302.


Feb 2 2023