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gum issues

Gum Issues: What’s The Difference Between Periodontitis & Gingivitis?

Many Americans experience gum issues, or periodontitis, throughout their lifetime. The causes can range from anything to heredity, lifestyle habits, or poor oral hygiene habits. When the average person experiences red, tender gums, he may think he has gingivitis, which is another type of gum disease. Unless you happen to be a dentist, you may not be familiar with the differences between gingivitis and periodontitis, or how to prevent and treat them.

What Is Gingivitis?

This fancy name refers to gum inflammation that is caused from excessive plaque. It sounds unpleasant – and it is – though many people have mild forms of gingivitis without knowing it. If your gums bleed easily when you brush or floss, or appear red or swollen, you could have gingivitis.

What Is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is what happens when gingivitis progresses and is not treated. The gums grow increasingly inflamed, pulling away from the teeth, and allow bacteria to increase. Symptoms include sensitivity when chewing or brushing, sores in the mouth, and in extreme cases, tooth loss.

Differences Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

These conditions are both a type of periodontal disease, or gum disease. The key difference you should know is that the effects of gingivitis are reversible; the effects of periodontitis are not. This is because, while both conditions affect the gums, only periodontitis affects the bone. Bone loss can never be recovered, though this is in extreme cases.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Excessive buildup of plaque is the biggest cause of gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis. But there are other factors that can contribute to these conditions, such as

Hormonal Changes

Puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation can increase the sensitivity of the gums, making it easier to develop gingivitis.


If you have cancer, HIV, or other conditions that mess with your immune system, you may experience gingivitis or periodontitis as a side effect. Diabetics can also experience gum disease due to their bodies’ inability to use blood sugar. If you have diabetes, you should let your dentist know so you can follow a thorough cleaning regimen, and possible schedule more frequent visits.


If your medication causes dry mouth, or decreased flow of saliva, this can negatively affect the teeth and gums. Other drugs, such as those for convulsions, can cause gums to grow abnormally. Let your dentist know which medications you take, so he or she can keep an eye on potential side effects in your mouth.

Bad Oral Habits

By far the most common cause of gum issues is bad oral hygiene. We understand that brushing and flossing can be time-consuming and a bit annoying. It may not be something you think about doing when you’re tired and want to go to bed, or when you wake up and prepare for the day. But brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day is your best protection against gum disease. When your dentist tells you that your teeth and gums look healthy, you’ll be glad you made the extra effort.

Smoking is also a major contributor to gum issues, as it makes it difficult for gum tissue to naturally repair itself.

Gingivitis And Periodontitis Treatments

Treatment for both conditions will depend on how bad of a case you have. When diagnosed early, these conditions can be cured with better, more frequent brushing and flossing. You may need to see your dentist for more frequent, thorough cleanings. At worst, your dentist may recommend periodontal surgery to fix the damage.

Help For Gum Issues in South Florida

If you think you may have gingivitis or periodontitis, or need to schedule a cleaning, Eriks Dental Group is here to help. We are proud to serve the residents of Boynton Beach, Florida. Call us today at 561-733-4004 to speak with our friendly staff. Check out our blog for additional dental tips.