What’s the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

By |2022-10-20T01:57:12+00:00October 20th, 2022|Periodontal Disease, Preventative Care, South Charlotte Dentistry, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Gingivitis is a commonly recognized and experienced gum disease that can cause irritation, redness, or swelling in someone’s gums. It’s treatable, and you can solve most mild cases from the comfort of your own home. Periodontitis is a more advanced gum disease with potentially severe consequences.

Understandably, people often confuse these two conditions. “Periodontal diseases” include all gum diseases, and gingivitis and periodontitis are two of the most common. The similarity in naming can leave anyone scratching their head, but there’s a reason they sound similar. The two conditions are directly linked, as gingivitis is a precursor to periodontitis.

Knowing the difference between the two is key to preventing significant, irreparable damage to your gums, and it helps you monitor your dental health and keep your gums clean.

That said, diagnosing a condition from home can be daunting. Below, we’ll discuss the essential differences between gingivitis and periodontitis. But visiting a dentist is the only surefire way to gauge your gum health. Catching a severe dental disease early is half the battle. If you’ve noticed increasingly red gums, reach out to South Charlotte Dentistry and get an appointment today.

Understanding the Differences Between the Two Diseases

Gingivitis and periodontitis are intrinsically tied to your gum health, which leads to a lot of confusion around which condition is what. Here are some details about each:


Gingivitis, as we said before, is a mild gum disease that’s very common. The CDC reports that 47.2% of Americans, around 64.7 million people, have a mild periodontal disease, or gingivitis.

Gingivitis stems from unchecked bacterial buildup in your mouth or a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Regardless of the root cause, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis if left untreated. The mild, more treatable nature of gingivitis sets it apart from further-progressed periodontitis.


Periodontitis is a severe gum infection that can cause massive damage to your mouth and body. The disease can destroy layers of gum tissue, infect portions of the jawbone, and is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. Unlike gingivitis, it’s usually evident when someone has periodontitis because of the accompanying symptoms.

Periodontitis shares its root causes with gingivitis (untreated or unattended plaque buildup). However, periodontitis typically results from a longer period of poor oral hygiene than regular cases of gingivitis.

Prevention of Periodontal Disease

Understanding gingivitis and periodontitis is crucial to protecting your dental health. But outright preventing the two is the best way to stay healthy. Here are some proven strategies for stopping these periodontal diseases before they occur:

Use Mouthwash

Incorporating mouthwash into your daily dental routine is an excellent way to keep your gums clean and healthy. However, not all mouthwashes are the same; some are better at protecting your gums than others.

You can find both therapeutic and cosmetic types of mouthwash at retail stores, and therapeutic is your best bet for gum health. An effective therapeutic mouthwash can:

  • Decrease tartar buildup.
  • Eliminate plaque from your teeth.
  • Remove left-behind food particles from your mouth.
  • Most importantly, reduce rates of gum disease.

Remember to look for the ADA seal as evidence that the specific mouthwash has proved efficacy.

Brush Properly

While few people skip out on brushing regularly, only a few are brushing correctly. As mentioned earlier, gum disease is directly tied to plaque and tartar buildup. Properly brushing your teeth will help you prevent disease and maintain oral health.

Know Your Risk

Personal habits (e.g., diet, smoking, etc.) can increase the chances of gum disease. Understanding how your daily routine, family history, and genetics impact your gum disease risk is essential. Then, you can adapt accordingly.

Signs To Look For

One of the best ways to keep your dental health in good shape is to catch gum disease early. Here are some symptoms or signs to be aware of:

  • Tender gums, especially when touched
  • Gums that frequently bleed
  • Pain when chewing
  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Swelling
  • Bad breath (Halitosis)
  • Gums that are receding from the tooth line

Schedule a dentist appointment now if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, especially if the symptoms are intensifying. Stopping gingivitis before it transitions into periodontitis often requires the expertise of a dental professional.

Other Practices To Maintain Oral Health

While you have some tips to prevent and identify gum disease, be sure to incorporate practices into your daily routine that improve your oral health and reduce your disease risk. Adding a few steps to your oral care routine can have a massive impact!

Flossing Regularly

Your toothbrush can’t remove all that plaque alone, and flossing is the other puzzle piece. You can only remove all your plaque buildup with floss, especially along the gum line and between teeth. Start flossing regularly (once a day), and you’ll be surprised by the improvement in your gum health.

Cut Back on Acidic Foods and Drinks

Foods high in acidity do more than erode enamel. High acidity can wreak havoc in your mouth, encouraging bacterial growth and increasing the risk of gum disease. If you experience any pain or discomfort after consuming acidic foods, consider it a sign that you should stop eating them outright.

Eat Healthily

As with anything health-related, eating healthily and caring for your entire body is an excellent way to foster your oral health. People without balanced diets are much more likely to experience gum disease and a slew of other dental problems.

Visiting the Right Dentist

Though often confused with each other, gingivitis and periodontitis are different gum diseases. The critical distinction is that periodontitis is the result of untreated gingivitis.

If you notice symptoms of early gum disease, delaying a visit to the dentist is likely to cause more harm than good. But it’s essential to see a dentist equipped and ready to help restore your gums to health and stop severe gum disease in its tracks. South Charlotte Dentistry is the clear choice for those in the Charlotte area. Our staff has a long track record of treating periodontal diseases successfully. We offer a wide range of services to remedy all cases of gum disease, and we can help you maintain your smile and health. Schedule your appointment today!

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