Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: What Are the Differences?

Around 42% of adults in the U.S. have gum disease, making it one of the most common chronic conditions in the country.

It can be further broken down into two major conditions: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis won’t advance to periodontitis, it can have a significant effect on your overall health.

Do you know the differences between gingivitis vs periodontitis?  You might have heard of it but still aren’t sure about the differences between them exactly. Keep reading to learn more about what these conditions are and how you can keep them from affecting your life.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a condition where the gums become inflamed. It is an early stage of gum disease.

It’s characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Unlike Periodontal disease, gingivitis is not invasive and can often be reversed.

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is an inflammation and infection of the supporting tissue of the teeth. It causes progressive destruction of the soft and hard tissue that holds teeth in place. As a result, a person may experience tooth loss, receding gums, and other serious issues.


Gingivitis and periodontitis are two distinct yet closely related gum diseases. While they have some shared causes, they differ in their severity, effects, and treatment.

Gingivitis is caused by plaque build-up, which irritates the gums. This leads to inflammation and gum sensitivity. Left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, which can lead to receding gums and permanent damage to the jawbone.

Poor oral hygiene, smoking, and certain medical conditions can also lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can also put pregnant women at higher risk for both conditions.

Other factors such as genetics, diet, or certain medications can make certain individuals more prone to gum disease. Knowing the causes of gingivitis and periodontitis is key to preventing and treating them.

The Symptoms

Gingivitis symptoms can include bad breath and a feeling of discomfort around the gums, and bleeding gums. It also includes a bad taste in the mouth and receding gums.

Common symptoms of periodontitis can include pain felt in the teeth and gums when chewing, shifting teeth, and visible pockets between the teeth and gums. It can also lead to infection and abscesses, loose teeth, damage to the jawbone, and eventually tooth loss if left untreated.

The Treatments

Gingivitis and periodontitis are two distinct but related conditions that have unique treatments. Treatments to get rid of gingivitis typically consist of routine professional dental cleanings, along with brushing and flossing at least twice a day at home. Additionally, a change in diet and oral hygiene care can help reduce the symptoms and prevent them from advancing.

Periodontitis is an advanced stage and requires more complex treatment. Professional deep cleanings, a procedure called scaling and root planning, may be necessary to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria below the gum line. If these treatments do not reduce the infection, then surgery or antibiotics may be necessary in order to save the teeth.

Gingivitis is usually reversible with early treatment. Periodontitis is irreversible and requires regular treatments to stop the progression of the disease.


The most basic and effective way to reduce our risk of getting either one is to practice good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing should be routine. Also, use an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce bacteria in the mouth.

Regular professional dental cleanings are also essential. They remove ongoing plaque buildup and are also essential for early diagnosis.

Patients should notify their dentist of any plaque or tartar buildup or any changes in their gum line. Taking preventive measures can help reduce the risk of developing gingivitis or periodontitis.

Diet plays a large role in the prevention of both gingivitis and periodontitis. Foods that contain lots of sugar and acidic foods need to be avoided. These foods can damage the enamel on the teeth and cause an increase in bacterial growth.

A balanced diet, low in sugar, can also help reduce the risk of dental disease. Eating a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, will help protect your teeth and gums from tooth decay and gum disease.

When to Visit a Dentist

If you are experiencing any symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis, it is best to make an appointment with a dentist. Upon a visit, you can expect a thorough examination and a few tests to determine whether the symptoms you are experiencing could be indicative of gingivitis or periodontitis.

Depending on the results, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment to manage and treat the condition in question. You may also receive advice regarding your oral hygiene habits and which habits you should modify in order to ensure better gum health.

Benefits of Early Detection

Gingivitis and periodontitis can have detrimental effects on the oral health of an individual if left untreated. The main thing to focus on is the early detection and treatment of these diseases. With early detection and proper treatment, individuals can receive a variety of benefits.

Treatment can stop the progression of dental problems and prevent the individual’s oral health from deteriorating. It can help the individual avoid the need to extract any of the affected teeth and attend costly dental surgery.

Finally, it can even help the individual prevent more systemic issues from arising from the disease. This includes cardiovascular problems and eczema. With early detection, the risk of requiring more advanced treatments and procedures can be greatly reduced.

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: Understanding the Differences

Gingivitis and periodontitis are two distinct gum diseases caused by different factors. It is essential to seek treatment for periodontitis right away, as it can cause serious health complications if left untreated.

Understanding their differences can help you determine the best preventive and curative measures for your own dental health. It is best to practice good dental hygiene habits to stay on top of both diseases. A visit to your dentist for diagnosis and treatment is important for a healthy smile.

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