Is there a difference between gingivitis and gum disease? Yes! Actually, there is such a profound difference that it could depend on whether or not you keep your teeth. Both gingivitis and gum disease require action. But understanding exactly what your dentist means when he tells you that you have gingivitis versus gum disease is very important.
Gingivitis is simply mild inflammation of the gums, resulting from the presence of plaque or inadequate oral hygiene. You may seem some swelling along the gum line and bleeding when brushing or flossing. Gingivitis can be the beginning stages of gum disease if not tended to. Which brings us to the most important difference between gingivitis and gum disease. Gingivitis can be completely reversed, sometimes within two weeks, with proper oral hygiene, and it does not result in permanent damage or tooth loss.
Gum disease, on the other hand, is when gingivitis has worsened. Which means the attachment tissues surrounding the teeth are now damaged. In gum disease, or periodontal disease, pockets develop underneath detached gum tissue, and bone levels around the teeth are lost. Periodontal therapy can help treat the condition at this point but once there is bone loss, the damage is irreversible. Symptoms include chronic swelling, bleeding, bad breath, visible tartar, gum recession, and tooth mobility.
Gum disease remains the leading cause of tooth loss for adults in this country. Since we know that gum disease is a progression of untreated gingivitis, it is unfortunate that patients do not get the adequate oral care they need to prevent this condition. Seeing your dentist for routine cleanings is your best weapon against gum disease. Not only can a dentist catch the early signs of gingivitis, but a professional cleaning removes disease-causing bacteria in deep gum pockets. If tooth loss isn’t enough to get your attention, gum disease is also shown to spread oral bacteria throughout the body, increasing the risk of systemic health problems like cardiovascular diseases.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,