Periodontitis and Gingivitis

If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontitis by your dentist, you may have some questions. What caused it? Is there a solution? What can I do to correct the situation? It is perfectly normal to have questions about these things. Gum disease can be broken into two categories; gingivitis and periodontitis. Continue reading for more information on periodontitis and gingivitis and their differences.


Gingivitis is essentially an infection of the gums. It is the first and most common stage of gum disease, and is found in patients that do not practice good home care. It is caused by bacteria that is allowed to harbor in the mouth through plaque and tartar, things that are usually removed with both proper home care, as well as professional cleanings done by your dental hygienist.

The symptoms of Gingivitis include:

  • Red gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding in the gums when flossing or brushing
  • A slight odor
  • Possible pain in the gums

The causes of Gingivitis:

  • Improper home care (not flossing, not brushing)
  • Failure to return for professional cleanings

The good news is that gingivitis is completely reversible, and with proper oral maintenance and care, people who experience gingivitis will soon have a healthy, happy mouth. Your dental hygienist will have you return a few times for a deeper cleaning than usual, and when your mouth returns to its healthy state, you can go back to planning to return every six months for your routine checkup and cleaning.


Periodontitis is an advanced form of gingivitis. When gingivitis is not taken care of and is allowed to advance, patients develop periodontitis. This is a much more serious condition, and is unfortunately irreversible; once a patient is diagnosed with periodontitis, they cannot reverse it. They can only come back for regular maintenance visits with their dentists to prevent the condition’s progression. The causes of periodontitis are essentially the same as the causes of gingivitis. Plaque and tartar are hardened forms of bacteria, and when they are able to get under the gums, the bacteria eat away at the bone. This causes the teeth to become loose, and it promotes a very unpleasant odor, as well as an unpleasant feeling for the patient.

The symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Recession of gums (More tooth visible)
  • Looseness of teeth
  • Teeth falling out
  • A very unpleasant odor
  • Bleeding, even simply to the touch
  • Pain and signs of infection
  • Deep pockets between the tooth and gum
  • Large amounts of tartar and plaque

To treat periodontitis, patients are required to come for regular deep cleanings, otherwise known as “scalings”. This is a procedure performed by the dental hygienist in which the tartar and plaque is completely removed from the teeth and from under the gums. An antibiotic is then placed underneath the gums to halt the growth of bacteria. This prevents the condition from worsening. As long as the patient returns for their scalings, usually every three months, it can be relatively simple to manage and control periodontitis.