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Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: How to Tell the Difference

June 12, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — friscoperio @ 1:36 pm
A person with periodontitis.

It’s very important to recognize that gum disease does not only come in one form. In fact, there are many stages of development that can appear the longer gum infections go without treatment. While one form can be easily reversed, another requires professional intervention to both treat and maintain. For example, gingivitis and periodontitis should never be conflated. To learn the difference between these conditions from a periodontist in Frisco as well as know which treatment is best suited for both, keep reading!

Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: What’s the Difference?

Technically speaking, gingivitis and periodontitis are both unique stages of periodontal (or gum) disease. If you have gingivitis, which is the earliest form of gum disease, you’ll likely notice inflamed, red, swollen, and bleeding gums. In this stage, the infection is still reversible.

In contrast, periodontitis is a far more severe condition characterized by deep pockets that form in between teeth. This creates more room for plaque and food debris to get stuck in, resulting in more significant inflammation, tenderness in the gum tissue, gum recession, and dark red and even purple gums. Over time, periodontitis can break down the bone tissue responsible for holding teeth in place. This is why periodontitis is actually the leading cause of tooth loss.

Not only is periodontitis far more severe than gingivitis, but it is not reversible in the same way that gingivitis is. Once you have it, you simply need to manage it closely to ensure the infection does not come back.

Treatment for Gingivitis

If gingivitis is present, you’ll need to pay much closer attention to your oral care routine. Make sure that you are brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing at least once a day to remove food debris and plaque from all the surfaces of your teeth. Avoid using tobacco at all costs, which can not only cause gum disease, but exacerbate its symptoms. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to get gum disease compared to non-smokers. It’s also important to complete a detailed professional cleaning at a dental office.

Treatment for Periodontitis

Treating periodontitis generally takes more time and expertise. For example, you’ll want to meet with a periodontist as they are specifically trained to provide more complex treatments compared to a general dentist, especially for severe cases. Procedures specifically intended to treat periodontitis include:

  • Antibiotic therapy – non-surgical method for healing infections following a deep cleaning
  • Scaling and root planing – a form of deep cleaning that removes plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line
  • Gum grafting – surgical treatment involving the replacement of dead tissue through donated material

The treatment for your gum disease in Frisco will vary depending on your specific needs. However, the first step always begins with a call to a periodontist. Schedule a visit today to get your gum health back on track!

About the Author

Dr. Zachary Carnow has been a practicing periodontist for over seven years and is highly trained to perform many complex treatments for gum disease. As a board-certified periodontist, he’s able to treat infections that are minor, severe and everything in between. To protect your gums and stop tooth loss, you can contact him through his website.

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