If you’re like 95% of Americans, then you’re familiar with hearing your dentist say that you have a cavity. It’s not exactly pleasant, but you at least know what they mean. However, if your dentist told you at your last checkup that you had gingivitis or periodontitis, you were probably a little confused at first. Gingivitis and periodontitis refer to the first and second stages of gum disease, respectively. Learning the difference between them – and seeking treatment quickly – can save you from tooth loss and other consequences of advanced gum disease. Read on to learn more!
Gingivitis: A Warning of Gum Danger to Come
More often than not, gum disease begins to develop when bacteria-filled plaque builds up along the gumline and in the spaces between the teeth. As a result, the gum tissue becomes inflamed. At this stage, you may experience bleeding when you brush or floss, but your smile has not yet been irreversibly damaged.
If too much time passes without treatment, though, gingivitis will progress into the more serious periodontitis. Luckily, gingivitis is often preventable or even reversible with daily oral hygiene and regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist.
Periodontitis: Permanent Damage to Your Smile
As bacteria continues to attack the gums over time and gingivitis worsens into periodontitis, the gums start to recede from the teeth. Pockets are formed, where food debris can easily get trapped and exacerbate the infection. Eventually, the supportive bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place wear down. Your teeth may loosen and even fall out entirely!
Symptoms of Gingivitis & Periodontitis
It’s often difficult to notice the symptoms of gum disease at first. In fact, many patients don’t notice an issue until they have developed periodontitis. That’s why it’s crucial to learn what to watch out for. With gingivitis, your gums might bleed when you brush or floss. The tissue may also feel tender or appear red or swollen. At the first sign of any of these symptoms, call your dentist. They might be able to reverse the condition and save your smile.
The symptoms of periodontitis are more pronounced since serious damage has already been done. Some of these signs include:
- Gums that have pulled back from the teeth.
- Discomfort when biting or chewing.
- Visible pockets between the gums and teeth.
- Persistent foul taste in the mouth or bad breath.
- Feeling as though the teeth are loose.
More than 50% of adults in the U.S. currently have some form of gum disease, according to the CDC. For this reason, it’s essential to maintain your oral health and tell your dentist if you suspect something is wrong. Even if the issue seems minor, it’s better to be safe than sorry – especially when it comes to your smile!
About the Practice
At The Dentists of Newtown, we offer multiple treatments for gum disease, including antibiotic therapy, gum grafting, and scaling and root planing. However, we’d prefer to prevent you from getting it in the first place! Our dentists prioritize a preventive approach, and we make it easy to meet all of your family’s dental needs under one roof by having a variety of dental specialists on staff. To keep your smile bright and infection-free, visit our website!