Is It Periodontitis or Gingivitis? The Types of Gum Disease

young woman smiling and looking in a mirror

According to the CDC, almost half of all Americans suffer from some degree of periodontal (gum) disease. However, despite its widespread presence, few of us actually know what it is. There are two types of gum disease: Gingivitis is mild and reversible, while periodontitis involves bone loss and is more difficult to treat.

What is Gingivitis?

It’s common to have gingivitis and not be aware of it. This is the first and least harmful stage of periodontal disease. When you accumulate excess plaque on your teeth and your gums become inflamed, it’s likely you have low-grade gum disease. Bleeding, swollen, or bright red gums are other early periodontal disease symptoms.

What is Periodontitis?

When gingivitis spirals out of control and becomes severe, it’s known as periodontitis. Periodontal disease stages range from gingivitis-type signs like inflamed gums to receding gums that pull away from your teeth and create pockets that collect bacteria. And unlike gingivitis, periodontitis can be very painful, especially when chewing, and lead to sores in your mouth and eventually, loss of teeth.

How do I prevent gum disease?

Fortunately, gum disease can be prevented. Adding these habits to your daily routine will help you maintain optimal oral health:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Swish with mouthwash.
  • Know your risk – Age, smoking, and genetics can play a role.
  • Have annual comprehensive periodontal evaluations with us!

What are my treatment options?

The primary goal of treatment for all types of gum disease treatment is to remove the buildup of bacteria and its spreading, to halt bone loss, and to improve the health and appearance of the teeth and gums.

If your gums have become inflamed or damaged because of excess plaque and bacteria, there are several options for restoration. We recommend non-surgical procedures, such as scaling and root planing, for those with only moderate periodontal disease.

Patients with gingivitis often need a “deep cleaning” to remove the dental plaque and tartar that have built up and caused gum inflammation. Scaling removes this buildup from the tooth roots. Root planing smooths rough edges of the tooth root to encourage healing and reduce the risk for bacteria populating in the future.

Osseous (flap) surgery is the preferred treatment for those with more advanced gum disease, but this procedure is simple as well. It’s more of an in-depth cleaning, requiring only local anesthesia.

Stages of more advanced gum disease are characterized by deepening periodontal pockets around the teeth that harbor bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup and cause the destruction of the surrounding bone and soft tissue.  We use osseous surgery to cut and “flap” gum tissue back to access more of the tooth for thorough cleaning. If gum disease has affected the bone, it is reshaped to promote the reattachment of the gum tissue.

How common is gum recession?

Gum recession is extremely common, and the top cause is periodontitis. We urge you to come in for treatment if your gums are red and swollen. It’s crucial to catch gum disease before your gums recede and bacteria sneak in. We can help you get control of it before it turns into an infection that spreads throughout your body. Call us today to schedule an evaluation. We’d be happy to discuss any questions you have regarding gingivitis or periodontitis.