Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

March 28, 2024


When it comes to oral health, most people prioritize their pearly whites over the pink foundation that holds it all together - their gums. But, gum diseases are more common than you might think. Gingivitis and periodontitis affect many adults worldwide.

In this guide, we'll explore the differences between gingivitis vs periodontitis. We'll also give you the tools to see, stop, and maybe reverse early gum disease.

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the milder form of gum disease. It typically manifests as inflammation or redness of the gingiva, the part of your gums around the base of your teeth.

This stage is reversible with good dental care and regular cleanings. But, if left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis.

The Causes of Gingivitis

The primary cause of gingivitis is the buildup of plaque - a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque has many bacteria. They, along with mucus and particles, form a nasty mix. This mix sticks to your teeth.

Signs and Symptoms of Gingivitis

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Gum bleeding, especially during brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Tender or receding gums

If you have any of these symptoms, it's crucial to seek advice from your dentist or dental hygienist. The good news is that with a thorough cleaning routine and professional care, gingivitis is reversible.

Treating Gingivitis

The treatment for gingivitis is quite straightforward. Your dentist will recommend a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar on teeth and below the gum line. Then, they will recommend diligent homecare and regular brushing and flossing to keep plaque from forming again.

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is the next stage of gum disease beyond gingivitis. It involves the inflammation and infection of structures around teeth, including:

  • the alveolar bone
  • periodontal ligament
  • cementum

Without treatment, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss. It can also harm your health. It may contribute to conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

The Causes of Periodontitis

Periodontitis usually comes after gingivitis. If left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to pockets between the teeth and gums. These pockets become food traps for more plaque and bacteria, further aggravating the disease.

The signs and symptoms of periodontitis are:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Receding gums, making teeth look longer
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • New spaces developing between your teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Changes in your bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

Treating Periodontitis

Treating periodontitis is harder than treating gingivitis. The main goal is to deep-clean infected pockets and stop more damage. This can include scaling to remove plaque and tartar from the bottom of each pocket. It also includes root planing to smooth out rough spots on the root where germs and bacteria can collect.

In advanced cases, surgery may be needed. It reduces pocket depths and restores your smile's health and vitality.

Preventive Measures for Gum Diseases

The best way to treat gum diseases is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This can be achieved through a proactive approach to oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups.

Good Oral Hygiene

Preventing gum diseases starts with effective plaque control. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily are the most critical factors in removing plaque from your teeth' surfaces and between them.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Seeing your dentist at least twice a year is crucial for the early detection of any oral health problems. Your dentist can detect gum disease before it becomes severe, make personalized recommendations for your oral care, and provide professional interventions to maintain the health of your gums.

Lifestyle Factors That Can Aggravate Gum Diseases

Certain lifestyle choices can either protect you from gum diseases or increase your risk. Here are some to consider:

Tobacco Use:

Engaging in smoking or chewing tobacco significantly heightens the likelihood of developing and exacerbating gum diseases. Tobacco products diminish the saliva flow in the mouth, creating an environment conducive for harmful bacteria to thrive and cause damage to the gums.


Consuming a diet rich in sugary foods and beverages can result in an accumulation of plaque bacteria. Failure to eliminate this plaque through effective oral hygiene practices can lead to gum inflammation characterized by redness, swelling, tenderness, and easy bleeding.


The impact of stress extends to oral health as well. Stress can compromise the body's ability to combat infections, including periodontitis. Moreover, stress may impede one's capacity to maintain proper oral hygiene routines, thereby elevating the susceptibility to gum diseases.

Professional Help and Advanced Treatment Options

For those with bad gum disease, dental professionals like those from Dickerson Dental Group can offer a variety of treatments beyond typical prophylactic care.


Antibiotics are meds for bacterial infections, given in forms like rinses, gels, microspheres, or tablets. They target & inhibit bacterial growth to treat infections. Follow dosage & duration for effective treatment & to reduce antibiotic resistance risk.

Dental Restoration

Severe gum disease may require restorative dental procedures such as implants, crowns, or bridges to repair damaged teeth and bone, improving both function and aesthetics for long-term solutions. Dental implants mimic natural teeth by fusing with the jawbone, while crowns and bridges strengthen compromised teeth, boosting oral health and confidence.

Advanced Periodontal Therapies

For complex dental issues, advanced treatments like gum grafting, bone grafting, and tissue regeneration may be needed to restore tooth support. Tailored interventions improve oral health and stability long-term.

Advanced Periodontal Therapies

In some cases, advanced treatment options may be required, including gum grafting, bone grafting, and tissue regeneration procedures to restore the supporting structures of your teeth.

Understand the Difference Between Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

In conclusion, gum diseases are common but preventable. By staying informed and knowing the difference between gingivitis vs periodontitis, you can understand the signs. Then, you can follow the best oral hygiene practices. Doing this will keep your gums healthy and your smile bright for years.

For more specific advice tailored to your dental needs, ask a dentist. They can give personalized tips and treatments to keep your gums and teeth healthy. Remember, when it comes to the health of your gums, prevention is always better than cure.

Explore our blog for insights beyond gum health! Discover diverse articles on crucial topics for your oral and overall health.


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