Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an incredibly common health condition among Americans especially adults. Even though a large majority of the population is dealing with it in some way, many people do not understand the disease. A commonly asked question is what is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis? In the shortest and simplest of terms, gingivitis and periodontitis are two sides of the same coin (the coin being periodontal disease). Gingivitis is the earliest stage and periodontitis is a later stage that can be reached if gingivitis is left untreated.
The roots of the word gingivitis are gingi- meaning gum tissue and -itis meaning inflammation. Gingivitis can be caused by a buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria along and beneath the gum line. This buildup is typically caused by poor oral hygiene or a large stretch of time between dental cleanings. The bacteria irritates the gum tissue causing it to become swollen and red (inflamed). Gingivitis can be reversed with good oral hygiene and a professional cleaning. A scaling and root planing treatment may be necessary as a method to manage the condition.
If the gum disease is left unmanaged, it can continue to progress. Once the bacteria that is built up in the plaque and tartar along the gum tissue has reached a high level, the body’s immune system may no be able to fight off the infection. The irritation may cause your gums to recede and once the gap between the gums and teeth reaches over 4mm, periodontitis is in play. Treating the condition at this stage is important to prevent it from progressing to a stage where it can cause systemic health problems, further gum recession, damage to the bone that supports your teeth, chronic bad breath, tooth loss, and more.
Do you have any questions about your gums?
Dr. Everett is here to answer your questions and to help keep your smile healthy. To schedule a consultation at High Plains Periodontics, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 806-686-1262. Dr. Everett’s office serves the residents of Lubbock, TX, and surrounding West Texas communities.