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Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: What You Need to Know about Gum Health

You have probably heard the terms “Periodontitis” and “Gingivitis” before. They both refer to dental problems, but what precisely do they mean? In simple terms, they are stages of the same condition: gum disease. This post highlights the differences between gingivitis and periodontitis, their key symptoms, and how a Redwood City dentist can help address these oral conditions. 

Gingivitis: The first stage of gum disease

Gum disease is highly prevalent in the US. According to the CDC, 50% of adults age 30+ suffer from some level of gum disease. Most of these people likely have gingivitis, a typical and mild form of gum disease that leads to gum irritation, redness, and swelling. 

Gingivitis symptoms can be so subtle that many people are unaware they have them. But just because the symptoms you are experiencing are mild, it doesn’t mean you are safe. If not addressed early, gingivitis can turn out to be a serious form of oral disease.

The most prevalent cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Taking steps to keep your gums and teeth clean is the best prevention there is. Plaque can build up fast if you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, as advised by your dentist. In simple terms, plaque is usually a buildup of bacteria, food particles, and mucus on your teeth. When left unchecked for long, it will turn into tartar. Tartar is virtually impossible to remove without professional teeth cleaning and might cause tooth decay when left untreated.  

Besides poor oral health, several other things can lead to gingivitis. Medications, diabetes, tobacco use, poor nutrition, and hormonal changes are among the prevalent causes. 

Periodontitis: Advanced gum disease

Periodontitis is a severe gum infection that harms the soft tissue and may even tear down the bone that anchors your teeth. Periodontitis can easily cause tooth loss and has been associated with an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.  

Fortunately, periodontitis is preventable. Like gingivitis, it is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene. Thus, brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting the best dentist in Redwood City bi-annually can help you avert the onset of periodontitis.

Symptoms of periodontitis may include loose teeth, bad breath, gums that pull away from your teeth, pus between teeth and gums, and swollen teeth. If you discern any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable to see your Redwood City dentist immediately. There are measures that your dentist can take to prevent the spread of the disease. Therefore, the sooner you act, the better. 

The causes and risk factors of periodontitis are akin to those of gingivitis. But the results can be more serious. As we mentioned, asthma, poorly controlled diabetes, stroke, cancer, tooth loss, and other illnesses have been linked to periodontitis. Research has shown that the bacteria that cause periodontitis can enter your bloodstream, affecting the heart, lungs, and other body parts. 

Obviously, neither form of gum disease is better, but periodontitis is, without a doubt, worse than gingivitis. Prevention is encouraged when it comes to gum disease, and proper oral hygiene is the best bet. 

Treatment for gingivitis

You must pay attention to your oral care routine if gingivitis is detected. At least brush your teeth twice a day with a dentist-recommended toothpaste and floss at least once a day to get rid of debris and plaque from your teeth’s surfaces.

Also, avoid using tobacco, which can not only lead to gum disease but aggravate its symptoms. Compared to non-smokers, smokers have a twofold increased risk of developing gum disease. Lastly, the importance of a professional cleaning conducted by the best dentist in Redwood City cannot go unmentioned. 

Treatment for periodontitis

Treating periodontitis usually takes more time and expertise. For instance, you will want to consult a periodontist as they are better positioned to offer treatments linked to periodontitis. Some of the common treatments for periodontitis include: 

  • Scaling and root planing – A type of deep cleaning that gets rid of plaque and tartar developing above and below the gum line
  • Antibiotic therapy – Non-surgical procedure for healing oral infections following a deep cleaning
  • Gum grafting – Surgical procedure that entails replacing dead tissue via donated material.

The sooner your gum disease symptoms are addressed, the better!

Gum disease doesn’t just fade away with time, particularly in the case of periodontitis. Note that even a mild case of gingivitis must be carefully monitored by the dentist to stop it from aggravating into a severe issue. As for periodontitis, advanced dental care is necessary, as permanent damage can occur if the infection isn’t controlled on time. 

Remember, if you notice anything unusual with your teeth or gums, that’s enough reason to give your family dentist in Redwood City a call.