What’s the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

Brushing and flossing are crucial for a healthy smile and can help prevent numerous oral health issues like gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis are both types of gum disease, but did you know that gingivitis is a type of periodontitis? Let us explain these two types of gum diseases.

The Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

What is Gingivitis?

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) states, “Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease.” Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria. Gums may become inflamed from improper oral hygiene - not brushing and/or flossing allowing plaque to stay on the surfaces of the teeth and gums. Plaque is a thin layer of bacteria that is constantly forming on the teeth. When plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing it may harden and turn to calculus or tartar. This hardened plaque may extend below the gum line causing an infection, gingivitis. You can learn more about gingivitis by reading our article, “What is Gingivitis?”.

What is Periodontitis?

If gingivitis is left untreated it can progress into a more serious gum disease called periodontal disease or periodontitis. The AAP describes periodontitis as being caused by plaque spreading below the gum line. When this occurs the gums become irritated and the body begins to turn on itself causing the soft tissue and bone to begin to be broken down. The gums separate from the teeth forming pockets between the teeth and soft tissue and then become infected.

According to the AAP, “As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.” You can learn more about periodontal disease causes, symptoms, and prevention by visiting the AAP.

Concerned About Gum Health?

If you are concerned about your gum health we are always happy to answer questions!



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