What’s the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

Periodontal (gum) disease is a serious chronic infection that can impact your smile and quality of life. Gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, precedes periodontitis, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. At Santa Teresa Dental, we emphasize the prevention, treatment, and management gum disease to ensure our valued patients enjoy long-term healthy smiles. 

Gingivitis: Early Gum Inflammation

Plaque, a sticky, colorless biofilm, continuously accumulates in the areas between the teeth. If not removed, the gums become inflamed, a condition known as gingivitis. Although the gums are irritated at this stage of gum disease, the teeth are still firmly planted. Symptoms of gingivitis are bleeding, red, and swollen gums. 

The good news is that gingivitis does not cause any permanent bone and tissue damage and is reversible with proper oral hygiene practices and treatment. However, neglecting to treat gingivitis may result in the condition progressing to periodontitis, with potentially serious impacts on your oral health. 

Periodontitis: Advanced Gum Disease

When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the gum begins pulling away from the teeth and forming pockets. These small spaces trap debris and bacteria and can become infected. The body’s immune system responds to the inflammation and infection as the plaque spreads below the gum line. With time, the pockets deepen, and the bone and tissue supporting the teeth begin to break down. As the condition continues to advance, the teeth become loose, which often results in tooth loss. 

Periodontitis symptoms include red, swollen, and bleeding gums, spaces between the teeth where the gums have receded, poor tooth alignment, pain when chewing, and a metallic taste in the mouth. Patients may also experience bad breath, a condition known as halitosis. 

How Is Periodontal Disease Treated?

At Santa Teresa Dental, we spare no effort to ensure that you maintain healthy teeth and gums throughout your life. We are proud to offer soft tissue management, a non-surgical approach to treating and managing the early to moderate stages of gum disease. Our goal is to restore the gum tissue to a healthy state and avoid the invasive surgical phase of treatment.

Gingivitis: Treating gingivitis typically requires two appointments. We will use a laser to eliminate the disease during the first appointment and provide you with home care instructions. During a follow-up appointment approximately 4-6 weeks later, we will reevaluate the gum tissue to determine if further treatment is necessary. 

Early and Moderate Periodontitis: Treating early and moderate periodontitis will require three sessions. The first two sessions involve debridement and laser therapy. During your final session, we will evaluate your gums and will determine whether your homecare efforts are adequate to avoid a recurrence of the disease. In some cases, we may recommend a local antibiotic. 

Advanced Periodontitis: At this advanced and destructive stage of this disease, we may need to refer you to a periodontist for specialist treatment of severe periodontal disease. 

After treatment, we may recommend periodontal maintenance visits every 3-4 months instead of the standard twice-a-year cleanings. We will clean your teeth, measure the pockets’ depth, and evaluate your gum health during your appointments. Our goal is to manage your condition and make sure it does not progress. 

How Can You Prevent Gum Disease from Developing?

The best way to keep your smile bright and your gums healthy is to maintain meticulous oral hygiene care, including regular brushing and flossing, and visiting Santa Teresa Dental twice a year for your routine dental exams and cleanings. Caring for your teeth and gums will translate to a lifetime of healthy, confident smiles.

Periodontal Disease Treatment in Morgan Hill, CA

Visit Santa Teresa Dental to learn more about the prevention, treatment, and management of periodontal disease. Our team is committed to utilizing state-of-the-art technology and proven techniques to maintain your healthy smile. Call us and schedule your appointment today!