The Relationship Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

It might sound like gingivitis and periodontitis are two separate gum problems, but they’re actually closely linked. In fact, gingivitis is the first stage before you reach periodontitis. Both are classified as gum disease. 

Understanding the subtle differences and the progression of gum disease can help you identify the early warning signs and get treatment quickly. 

Dr. Benjamin Crowley and Dr. Diane Iachini, the periodontal specialists at Brightwork Family Dentistry, are sharing their best information on gum health and gingivitis and periodontitis

Healthy gums

There are a few ways to check if your gums are healthy, the color being one of the main indicators. Pink gums mean that they’re not infected or inflamed. You may have a darker or lighter hue depending on your cultural background. 

Also, check if your gums are firm and snug around your teeth. Your gum line may look knife-edged or pyramidal, following a naturally curved shape around your tooth.

Your gums stay healthy with a diligent oral hygiene routine and regular check-ups with our dentists. Neglect your teeth and gums, and you’ll eventually develop gingivitis. 

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a mild and fairly common gum problem and is the first stage before periodontitis. It impacts your gingiva, which is the part of your gums around the base of your teeth. With gingivitis, you’ll notice red, swollen, irritated gums and other symptoms like:

Most people develop gingivitis due to poor oral hygiene that allows plaque to form on your teeth, harden into tartar, and eventually irritate your gums. Some other risk factors for gingivitis include using tobacco products, older age, dry mouth, and poor nutrition.

Fortunately, gingivitis can be reversed and treated if you catch it early enough. Our dentists specialize in professional teeth cleanings that remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria that threaten your gum health. We can also offer tips and tricks you need to keep up your oral hygiene routine at home. 

It can be tempting to ignore seemingly mild gum problems like gingivitis, especially if life circumstances or fear of the dentist keep you from scheduling your regular cleanings. But untreated, gingivitis can turn into a serious problem.

Periodontitis

When gingivitis advances, it enters the next stage of gum disease, called periodontitis. If you have periodontitis, your gums become even more inflamed, irritated, and tender, and they bleed easier. Some other tell-tale signs that you have periodontitis include:

Often, periodontitis leads to severe tooth decay and eventually tooth loss. In the worst cases, the bacteria on your teeth can enter your bloodstream through the gum tissue and cause problems in other parts of your body, including respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and problems controlling blood sugar.

Treating periodontitis

If caught in its earliest, mildest stage, our dentists can treat periodontitis with non-surgical treatments, such as scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing are deep cleaning procedures aimed at completely removing all traces of bacteria and tartar buildup from your teeth and your gums, as well as smoothing the root surface and preventing future buildup.

Sometimes, advanced periodontitis requires us to remove some of your teeth. Fortunately, we have comprehensive tooth replacement options, including crowns, bridges, and dental implants, to restore your smile. 

If you’d like more information or are concerned about your gum health and would like to schedule a check-up with one of your dentists, contact our Richmond, Virginia, office or request an appointment online.

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