Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: Recognizing the Signs & Knowing When to Seek Treatment

Maintaining good oral hygiene is paramount to overall health, yet many individuals overlook the health of their gums until symptoms become apparent. Gingivitis and periodontitis are two common gum diseases that, if left untreated, can lead to serious dental complications. Understanding the differences between these conditions, their signs, and when to seek treatment is crucial for maintaining optimal oral health.

Gingivitis: The Early Stage of Gum Disease

Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease characterized by inflammation of the gums. It is typically caused by poor oral hygiene habits that lead to the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. When plaque is not removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can irritate the gums, causing them to become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. Signs of gingivitis include:  

  • Bleeding gums – One of the most common signs of gingivitis is bleeding gums, particularly during brushing or flossing. This occurs due to inflammation of the gum tissue, making it more susceptible to damage.
  • Swollen or tender gums – Gingivitis often causes the gums to appear swollen or puffy and may be accompanied by tenderness or discomfort.
  • Bad breath – Persistent bad breath, or halitosis, can be a sign of gingivitis, as bacteria in the mouth produce foul-smelling compounds that contribute to oral odor.
  • Receding gums – In some cases, gingivitis can cause the gums to recede or pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria can accumulate.

When to Seek Treatment for Gingivitis

It is essential to seek treatment for gingivitis as soon as symptoms appear to prevent the condition from progressing to a more severe form of gum disease. Professional dental care, including a thorough cleaning by a dental hygienist and instruction on proper oral hygiene techniques, can effectively treat gingivitis and restore gum health. Additionally, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine at home, including brushing twice daily, flossing regularly, and using an antiseptic mouthwash, can help prevent gingivitis from recurring.

Periodontitis: Advanced Gum Disease

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that affects the supporting structures of the teeth, including the gums, bone, and ligaments. Periodontitis is characterized by the formation of deep pockets between the gums and teeth, which can harbor bacteria and lead to further tissue damage. Signs of periodontitis include:  

  • Persistent bad breath – As periodontitis advances, bacteria multiply and release toxins that contribute to chronic bad breath.
  • Gum recession – In addition to bleeding and swelling, periodontitis can cause the gums to recede further, exposing the roots of the teeth and increasing sensitivity.
  • Loose or shifting teeth – As the supporting bone and ligaments deteriorate, teeth may become loose or shift out of alignment.
  • Pus formation – In severe cases of periodontitis, pockets of pus may develop around the teeth and gums, indicating an active infection.

When to Seek Treatment for Periodontitis

Early intervention is crucial for effectively treating periodontitis and preventing further damage to the teeth and surrounding tissues. If you experience any signs or symptoms of periodontitis, such as persistent bad breath, gum recession, or loose teeth, it is essential to seek prompt treatment from a periodontist or dentist specializing in gum disease. Treatment for periodontitis may include scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar buildup, antibiotics to control infection, and surgical interventions to repair damaged tissue and restore oral health.

Turn to Perio Implant Health Professionals

Gingivitis and periodontitis are progressive gum diseases that can have serious consequences if left untreated. At Perio Implant Health Professionals, we can provide expert treatment that will address these oral health concerns and lead to a healthier and more beautiful smile. Contact us today to learn more about the periodontal treatments and procedures we offer to patients in Los Angeles, CA.