Good dental care is one of the important things for all, however, most people experience one or other dental problems at some stage in their life. Gum disease is an acute dental problem that can lead to complications over a period. It is caused due to build-up of plaque, a sticky layer of bacteria that coats the dental cavity. Early-stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and it involves inflammation, but it doesn’t show any symptoms. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, which is an advanced stage of gum disease. It can damage the gums and eventually lead to tooth loss.

Read through this article to understand the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gum disease

What Is The Difference Between Gingivitis And Periodontitis?

Both gingivitis and periodontitis are types of periodontal disease, the key difference is that gingivitis is reversible, while periodontitis is not. As periodontitis involves bone loss that cannot be completely treated and recovered.

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis or gum inflammation is a minor gum disease that may come and go. When treated promptly, the condition is reversible. Gingivitis does not cause any pain and some of the common symptoms associated with gingivitis include:

Swollen red gums

Gums that bleed when you brush or floss

Gums that suddenly bleed


The main aim of treatment is to reduce inflammation. Some of the  treatment options includes:

Good oral hygiene: This comprises regular brushing and flossing and using the right techniques.

Dental Cleaning: It is essential to visit the dentist periodically to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and gumline.

Use of antiseptic mouthwash: Dentists may recommend using mouthwash containing chlorhexidine that reduces bacteria in the oral cavity.

Also Read: Receding Gums: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

What Is Periodontitis?

Gingivitis if left untreated can eventually progress to periodontitis that causes inflammation of the periodontium region, which is the region surrounding gum tissue and bone that keep teeth in place. As this condition worsens it can lead to the loosening of teeth.

Generally, periodontitis develops in stages. As the condition progress to a later stage, the symptoms become more severe. Some of the symptoms include:

Red, swollen gums

Bleeding gums

Sensitive teeth

Sore gums

Bad breath

Loose teeth

Teeth that change positions

Pain during chewing

Receding gums

When the gums recede from a tooth, they form spaces called gum packets that become easily infected with bacteria.


The main goal of treatment for periodontitis is to reduce inflammation. As the condition is more advanced it requires additional treatments.

Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good dental hygiene can slow down the progress of the condition and avert additional tooth loss.

Dental Cleaning: A deep cleaning of the oral cavity to remove tartar and plaque from teeth and below the gum line, that can support the gums reattach to the teeth.

Antibiotics: In very severe cases, oral antibiotics or topical antibiotic creams are prescribed by the dentist.

Surgery: Sometimes, surgery may be needed to cut open the inflamed gums and clean the root of the tooth. Post-surgery the gum tissues are stitched together so that they can reattach to the teeth.

How Does Gingivitis Progress To Periodontitis?

Untreated gingivitis can lead to plaque formation that spread to the gum line, where bacteria present in the plaque release toxins which inflame and irritate the gums. This triggers a chronic inflammatory response in the system, which destroy the gum tissue and bone that keep the teeth in place and result in periodontitis. As the gums break down, they recede away from the teeth, producing gum pockets. These gaps become easily infected by bacteria in the mouth, resulting in more tissue damage.

The tissue damage can also make the gum pockets become too big and teeth may loosen due to bone loss and deeper pockets may cause it harder to reach the bacteria when brushing and flossing teeth.

Also Read: Gum Disease: 5 Simple And Effective Home Remedies To Ease Gum Pain

Risk Factors For Gingivitis And Periodontitis

Certain factors can increase your risk for gingivitis and periodontitis:

Poor oral hygiene

Smoking or chewing tobacco


Misaligned teeth that are hard to clean


Nutrient deficiency



Hormone changes

Health conditions, like diabetes or HIV

Continued intakes of some medications, like steroids or cancer therapy drugs

Ways To Prevent Gingivitis And Periodontitis

Following some of these measures can help one aver the risk and prevent gum damage. A good dental hygiene routine includes

  • Brushing teeth twice per day
  • Flossing between teeth every day
  • Consuming a wholesome and nutritious diet
  • Scheduling routine dental check-ups and cleaning
  • Quitting smoking