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The title of this article is a bit deceiving, because it implies that each item is different when really, they are all one in the same. Gum disease, is the all encompassing term for both gingivitis, and the more severe, periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease. That may be common knowledge to some, but there are far too few people in the US who are well-informed when it comes to gum disease. In fact, many people suffering from gum disease, or even periodontal disease, may not realize the symptoms they have are because of gum disease. Staying informed is vital to dental health, so here’s a quick and dirty run down on preventing, noticing, and treating gum disease, in all it’s forms.


To put it simply, gingivitis is mild inflammation, caused by an overgrowth of plaque in your mouth. This makes gums vulnerable to bleeding during routine dental care. Gingivitis, in and of itself, is not terribly serious. It’s very treatable, and doesn’t come along with the long list of risks that periodontal disease does. The main risk associated with gingivitis, is that it progresses into periodontal disease. The good news is, not all gingivitis does progress into periodontal disease. In fact, it’s fairly easy to treat and cure gingivitis with more stringent dental care. The most important factor in preventing, and treating gingivitis, is diagnosis. So here’s some tips on spotting, and treating gingivitis.

Signs you may Have Gingivitis

  • Bleeding during brushing
  • Chronic halitosis
  • Discolored gums (purple or red instead of pink)
  • Tender, sensitive gums
  • Gum Inflammation

Gingivitis Treatment

Basically If caught early enough, the best treatment for gingivitis is twice daily brushing and flossing once a day. If that’s already being done, and the gingivitis persists, or if the gingivitis is too far gone before normal measures can return gums to a healthy state, more serious action may need to be taken. The most gentle and easy solution is using a mouthwash with hydrogen peroxide, or chlorhexidine. Both ingredients will help kill plaque, and restore your mouth to a healthy bacterial state. Dentists can also do scaling, root planing, or curettage to treat gingivitis, and prevent it from progressing into periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease, AKA Periodontitis

Unlike gingivitis, periodontal disease is a pretty serious matter. Not only does it have dental implications, like potential tooth loss, but it’s linked to a number of other health problems that aren’t dental related at all. Stroke, diabetes, respiratory issues, diabetes, breast cancer, and preterm labor, have all been linked in some way to periodontal disease. These correlations are by no means causative. It is interesting to note however, that when treated, some of the risks associated with periodontal disease go down significantly. So be sure to watch out for the symptoms, and treat them immediately if present.

Signs you may Have Periodontal Disease

The above listed symptoms for gingivitis will still be present in periodontal sufferers. There will be a few additional symptoms present when gingivitis has progressed into periodontitis.

  • Teeth feel loose in gums
  • Spacing in teeth
  • Gums seem to be receding
  • Pockets forming between gums and teeth
  • Puss present between gums and teeth
  • Change in bight

Periodontal Disease Treatment

Treatment of periodontal disease is as varied as the patients who have its severity. Treatment ranges from medicinal treatment, to a number of surgical options. Medicinal treatments come in all forms. Antibiotics in the form of oral tabs, mouthrinses, gels, and even a chip that can be implanted in the gums, are all administered in the treatment of periodontal disease. Like with gingivitis, deep cleaning, scaling, and root planing can be used to treat periodontal disease. Surgical options for periodontitis include bone and dental grafts, and flap surgery. Treatment has been proven to dramatically reduce the risks associated with periodontal disease, so if you think you have it, or know you do, don’t delay in treating it. It may save you money, and years of your life.

Prevention is the Best Defense

Whereas diagnosis and treatments are your best weapons when it comes to fighting gum disease, prevention is the best initial reinforcement. Gum disease, whether in the form of mild gingivitis, or periodontitis, can wreak havoc on your dental health. So if you’ve managed to avoid gum disease this far, practice good dental hygiene, and visit your dentist regularly, in order to prevent it altogether.

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About Author

Emily Manke is a lifestyle, health, and food blogger from Portland, Oregon. She contributes to a number of blogs, including the one for these dentists in Louisville, CO.

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