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Published: November 9, 2021

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

Gum disease has been a problem for humans for millennia. It's hard to imagine Ancient Egyptians and other societies brushing their teeth. But even the original civilizations knew it was the only way to keep teeth healthy.

Over thousands of years, we've adapted the concept of oral hygiene to today's modern version. Gone are the days of the "chewsticks" used by Egyptians or the first bamboo-handled, boar-bristled toothbrush of the Tang Dynasty in China. But what hasn't disappeared is the problem of gum disease in general.

Although we take better care of our dental health now, it's still difficult to get rid of bacteria. These microorganisms love dark, moist areas, like our mouths. Brushing and flossing help to avoid a lot of oral health conditions. At Bay Star Dental, we still see a lot of people with gum disease.

The Types of Gum Disease

When microorganisms like plaque and tartar are left to buildup on your teeth, they create a sticky film that decays enamel and erodes gums. If it's left untreated, this film causes a mild gum disease called gingivitis, which can then become the serious condition known as periodontitis.

At  Bay Star Dental, our days almost always include treating patients with gingivitis and periodontitis. Although it's a common condition, it's not something most people know about. Learning about each type of gum disease gives you the chance to work on preventative care of your teeth and gums.

For instance, gingivitis is a disease that causes inflammation of healthy gums because of a buildup of microorganisms at the gum line. Not all gingivitis is obvious, unfortunately. If it was, you'd be able to catch it early. But for many people, by the time they realize there's a problem, it has progressed into a gum disease called periodontitis.

Signs like bleeding or swollen gums mean it's probably time to visit Bay Star Dental. Until you can get in for an appointment, use this guide to learn about gingivitis vs periodontitis.

Gingivitis 101

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease that, if caught soon enough, is easily treated and fixed. The most common signs include sensitivity in the teeth and gums and inflammation of the gum area. You may notice a few other symptoms that will come and go. Because it's often so mild, try not to ignore the little warning signs so the damage can be reversed before it becomes more severe.

Signs of Gingivitis

Gingivitis comes with a few telltale signs if you know what to look for. When you brush your teeth, look at your gums. If they're redder than usual or begin to bleed, or your gum line is swelling, you could have early onset gingivitis.

Gums that bleed more than usual when you're brushing or flossing are another sign of gum inflammation. This doesn't mean you have a serious issue, but you should begin treatment for gingivitis.

Treating Signs of Gingivitis Early

The great news is that if you've caught gingivitis early, all you have to do is increase your oral health routine. Regular brushing and flossing with the right techniques can eliminate gingivitis completely. Go for your regular dental checkups, and if you haven't been there in six months or more, make an appointment.

A dental exam is important for preventative care. Our dentists can catch any problems that are developing before they become major concerns. This is especially important with gingivitis since if it's ignored, it can turn into serious gum infection, bone loss, and chronic health conditions.

A hygienist's professional dental cleanings are the way to remove tartar and plaque buildup. Specialized tools get under the gums to clean out dangerous microorganisms. If you need a little more help, the dentist could recommend an antiseptic mouthwash prescription. All of these steps together can reverse gingivitis before it turns into periodontitis.

Periodontitis 101

People who develop gingivitis may ignore it or not realize they have it. If left untreated, periodontitis develops. At that point, only a dentist can help you manage the problem.

Periodontal disease in its mildest form shows up as inflammation in the periodontium. This is the gum tissue and bone that hold your teeth to your jaw. When too many harmful bacteria and plaque grow in these areas, they form pockets under the gum line.

The early stage slowly turns into aggressive periodontitis. At that point, the problem moves into the rest of the body. Your body's immune system fights the infection, but it continues to spread without good oral hygiene and dental care.

Signs You May Have Periodontitis

Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is a disease that progresses in stages. As you go through each stage, plaque and bacterial growth spread, causing the symptoms to increase in severity. Bright red gums, bleeding gums, and persistent unpleasant breath are typical signs that the disease is worsening.

A lot of signs are internal, such as sensitive teeth and reduced gum health. Eventually, the symptoms turn visible. Loose teeth start to show up as a result of poor tooth alignment. Your healthy gum tissue turns into receding gums, and the connective tissue loosens, causing tooth loss.

Even worse, though, are the risk factors that come with chronic periodontitis. At its foundation, the disease is a long-term infection. As with any infection, if it's ignored, it can become dangerous, if not fatal. Your body is fighting infections, and you should work with your doctor and dentist regularly to help it heal.

Things like a poor diet and poor oral hygiene cause periodontal disease to get worse. The body's chronic inflammatory response kicks in. Before you end up with receding gums, lost bone, and cardiovascular disease, visit Bay Star Dental for treatment.

How to Treat Periodontitis

When gingivitis progresses into advanced gum disease and becomes periodontitis, it's harder to treat. Early periodontitis may just need a professional cleaning and proper oral hygiene, but by the time it's in its severe form, it'll take more significant care.

Since there's an infection that causes the gum disease gingivitis and periodontitis, the dentist can clean out the infection. To do this, they'll complete a procedure called root planing, when the dentist cleans out the infection at the root. Along with a course of antibiotics, root planing removes the debris under the gums, cleaning the gum line so the gums can reattach to the teeth.

Professional dental cleaning is the first step to prevent gingivitis or treat periodontitis. If the excess plaque spreads after a cleaning and other treatments and the gums collect debris, surgical treatment may be necessary.

Gum disease surgery is a simple procedure in which your dentist gets into the soft tissue and swollen gums. At the root of the tooth, the infection is scraped away, then the gum tissue is sewn back together. The gums and teeth reconnect in a healthy way again.

The best way to avoid periodontal diseases and the consequences that come with them is to learn to take care of your teeth and gums.

Preventing and Treating Gum Disease

Not all gingivitis shows signs, but you can step up your dental hygiene routine to prevent gum disease. Since periodontitis is a leading cause of tooth loss, it's important to engage in good dental care habits. Early detection, a thorough dental cleaning regularly, and brushing and flossing can help you avoid gum disease.

Your oral hygiene routine is the best way to catch the mild form of gum disease before it progresses into periodontitis. Gingivitis is reversible and easy to care for, however, letting it turn into the stage of gum disease that becomes periodontal disease has more consequences. Don't let the bacteria rule your mouth. Visit Bay Star Dental to prevent gum disease and keep your dental health on point.

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