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Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

by baylydev
October 27, 2021

The past two years have shown us how essential overall wellness is to our security. But part of having a healthy immune system depends on how your dental hygiene, too. If your teeth and gums aren't healthy, they, along with the rest of your body, pay the price.

Proper dental care has been a part of our lives for thousands of years. We can date dental tools all the way back to the beginning of recorded civilization with the Ancient Egyptians. They knew the importance of healthy teeth, so they used a basic tool called a chewstick. Chewsticks had a frayed edge on one side to act like a brush, and a point on the other side to be used as a toothpick.

Today, our dental tools are a bit more sophisticated and comfortable. Our soft bristles don't leave splinters in our mouths, and floss and toothpicks come in flavors, too! But gum disease remains a leading cause of receding gums, decayed enamel, and tooth loss.

At Emerald Coast Dentistry, we want to help you recognize the signs of early gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis and understand the consequences. On top of dental problems, gum disease can lead to chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease. To prevent gingivitis and the issues that stem from it, we've put together this guide about gingivitis vs periodontitis and how to stop both in their tracks.

The Facts You Need to Know About Gum Disease

Microorganisms like bacteria live in dark, moist areas. This makes our mouths the ideal breeding zone for them to grow and thrive. Typically, they're not harmless, as long as we can keep them under control. That's where brushing and flossing every day come into play. If you miss a brushing, those little creatures take it as an opportunity to spread further into your mouth.

With the right oral health routine used consistently and regular dental visits, you can keep control of bacteria and plaque buildup before it damages your gum and enamel. Both of these steps are important in order to prevent cavities and gum disease. Otherwise, it's likely that you'll end up with a stage of gum disease called gingivitis.

When bacteria get under the gums, gingivitis is the result, but it can be reversed if caught early. But if it's left untreated, it will become periodontal disease.

Two Types of Gum Disease You Need to Know

The two types of gum disease are the mild form, gingivitis, and its more severe counterpart, periodontitis. Each type of gum disease begins as excess plaque and tartar buildup, but over time, this minor issue becomes damaging. As plaque and tartar form a sticky film, they erode your enamel, spreading under your gums to create swelling and infection.

While in the early stages of gingivitis, you can use at-home care to reverse the problem. The gum disease called periodontitis is another story. However, stopping gum disease early can be hard because not all gingivitis shows symptoms. Just in case, regular dental checkups are your failsafe. They help you catch gum disease gingivitis and other problems early.

On your own, to avoid periodontal disease, you can monitor your gum health. Check your gums and teeth when you brush and floss, and be on the alert for bleeding or swelling. If you notice anything unusual, you could have early gingivitis.

Plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, inflammation of the gum line, and a little extra bleeding are signs that you need to up your oral hygiene care. When you only have gum inflammation and other mild signs, you can still stop gingivitis from spreading into a more severe form.

Reversing Gingivitis

As the mildest form of gum disease, gingivitis can be reversed. As long as you're brushing and flossing correctly and using the right techniques, you'll see an improvement. However, if you haven't had a cleaning in a while, make an appointment with East Valley Dental Care and start scheduling your regular dental checkups.

A dental exam is an essential part of preventative oral health care. The hygienist gives you a professional cleaning, and the dentist evaluates your oral health for any early-onset signs. Gum disease and things like cancer can be caught before they're too far gone to be fixed. When gingivitis is left untreated, it spreads into serious gum infections. These can result in bone loss and other issues if your chronic inflammatory response is overwhelmed.

What is Periodontitis?

A serious gum infection, periodontitis progresses in stages. Once periodontitis develops, you must have professional help. Only a dentist and your doctor can minimize how far the infection spreads through your bloodstream and damages the other organs. Your body's immune system fights the infection, but it can only do so much on its own. A poor diet and nutrition make it harder for the system to do its job, too.

To prevent this form of gum disease, you have to stop it while it's still mild. Periodontal disease progresses from unchecked gingivitis. When it does, the periodontium (bone and tissue that connect to your jaw) weakens. As the harmful bacteria get under the gum line, they form pockets of infection, becoming aggressive periodontitis.

Over time, untreated periodontitis can cause other health problems, like cardiovascular disease. Don't take a chance that the infection spreads. Get regular dental care and use proper oral care as soon as possible.

Could You Have Periodontal Disease?

Maybe you're concerned that you've bypassed gingivitis and moved into something more severe. Do you have bleeding gums and sensitive teeth? Have they been that way for a while? In the early stage of gum disease, better care will show improvement fast. At the stage of early periodontitis, you'll need a little more help.

How do you know if you have periodontal disease? You'll notice a spread of plaque and bacterial growth along with your teeth and gum line. With advanced gum disease, there's persistent unpleasant breath, bright red gums that easily bleed, and very sensitive teeth. These symptoms turn into weak gums, which will lead to tooth loss.

Healthy gum tissue is necessary to hold your teeth at the root. When the connective tissue weakens, you end up with poor tooth alignment, and these misaligned teeth result in loose teeth.

Chronic periodontitis moves beyond the teeth and gums, spreading risk factors throughout your body. Working with your doctor and dentist helps keep the spread control. Without regular, consistent care, you could end up with lost bone in the mouth and many other serious health issues.

Treating Periodontal Disease

When you develop gingivitis and it turns into periodontitis, the first thing you need is a better oral hygiene routine. Head to the dentist for your cleaning, and talk to them about how you can do more at home.

From there, if the problem needs a little boost to get you started, your dentist may suggest antibiotics and a procedure called root planing. In this technique, special tools are used to get under the gum line, where gums collect debris that is hard to get rid of without help. The procedure will clean out the infection, leaving you with healthier gums.

If that doesn't work, gum disease surgery may be necessary. This surgical treatment is used when your receding gums and infection have spread too far for antibiotics and a planing to help. It's minorly invasive - the dentist opens up the infected soft tissue, removes the infection in the swollen gums, and sews the gum tissue back together. It's up to you to upgrade your poor oral hygiene to something that keeps your newly healthy gums and teeth in good shape.

Treating Gum Disease Before it Happens

Preventative care is key. Regular visits to East Valley Dental Care can help you prevent cavities, gingivitis, and more severe gum disease. We all need a thorough professional dental cleaning twice a year (or as recommended), and a little boost to our at-home care can only help our teeth and gums.

With proper oral hygiene, you can prevent gum disease before the plaque spreads. Gingivitis and periodontitis can be avoided, but if gingivitis progresses, we're here to help you fight back! East Valley Dental Care, you, and a thorough dental cleaning are all you need to prevent gingivitis and get rid of periodontal diseases. See your dentist regularly for preventative care now so you're not forced to go later as you're fighting infections.

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