Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: Important Causes And Symptoms

Gingivitis and periodontitis are both periodontal diseases but most often are confused with each other. This article contains detailed information about Gingivitis vs Periodontitis, its important causes, and symptoms.

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common gum disease, also known as a bperiodontal disease, which causes irritation, inflammation, and redness of your gingiva, a part of the gum around the teeth. Gingivitis should not be taken lightly or left untreated as it can lead to more gum diseases like periodontitis.

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The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. It can be prevented by changing bad oral hygiene habits and incorporating good habits, such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and going for regular dental checkups. These habits will not only prevent the growth of bacteria in your mouth but will also reverse the effect of gingivitis1.

Symptoms Of Gingivitis

Healthy gums are of pale pink color, and they fit tightly around the teeth. But when it is affected with gingivitis, it shows various other symptoms. Some of the common signs of gingivitis include:

  1. Red Swollen Gums
  2. Bad Breath
  3. Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  4. Receding Gums
  5. Tender gums
  6. Gum inflammation
bleeding gums
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If you come across these signs of gingivitis, then don’t forget to see a dentist and schedule an appointment with them. The sooner you get the treatment done, the chances of getting treated at an early stage will be higher. If not treated properly, it will lead its path towards periodontitis.

Causes Of Gingivitis

The common cause of gingivitis is poor dental hygiene. It promotes the formation of plaque on the teeth, thus causing inflammation of the surrounding tissue. Dental plaque 2can cause gingivitis in many ways. The different stages of gum disease (gingivitis) include:

  • Plaque Forms On The Teeth

Dental plaque is an invisible sticky film that is mainly made up of bacteria. When starch and sugar from food interact with bacteria that thrive in our mouth, this results in plaque formation on the teeth.

  • Plaque Turns Into Tartar:

The plaque that remains on the teeth hardens and turns into tartar below the gum line, accumulating bacteria. Tartar makes dental plaque more difficult to remove; it provides a protective barrier to bacteria and causes irritation of the gum line. It would be best if you seek professional help to remove tartar.

  • Inflammation Of The Gums 

The longer the plaque and tartar stay on the teeth, the more they will irritate the gums and the part of the gums around the roots of the teeth resulting in inflammation. Over time, the gums tend to swell and bleed. Tooth decay may also occur in some cases. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis and eventually lead to tooth loss.

Risk Factors For Gingivitis

Gingivitis is very common, and anyone can get it. Factors that can increase the risk for gingivitis are:

  1. Poor oral care habits
  2. Old age
  3. Smoking or chewing tobacco
  4. Dry mouth
  5. Malnutrition that also includes deficiency of Vitamin C
  6. Inadequate restoration of teeth or crooked teeth that are difficult to repair.
  7. Reduced immunity treatments of diseases such as leukemia, HIV / AIDS, or cancer.
  8. Certain medications, such as phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) for seizures and a few calcium channel blockers, that are used to treat angina, hypertension, and other diseases.
  9. Hormonal changes, such as changes related to pregnancy and menstrual cycle
  10. Genetics
  11. Medical conditions, such as certain fungal and viral infections.

Complications Caused By Untreated Gingivitis

Untreated gingivitis can develop into gum disease and spread to the underlying tissue and bone (periodontitis). This is a more serious disease that can cause tooth loss.

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Chronic gum inflammation is related to systemic diseases, such as respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies have shown that the bacteria that cause periodontitis can enter the blood through the gum tissue and may affect your lungs, heart, and other parts of your body.

Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG) is severe gingivitis that causes gum pain, ulcers, and gum infection.

Read more about home remedies for gingivitis.

What Is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages soft tissues and, if left unnoticed, can damage the bones that support the teeth. Periodontitis causes the loosening of the tooth from the socket.

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Periodontitis is common but is largely preventable. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing every day, and checking your teeth regularly can greatly increase your chances of preventing periodontitis.

Symptoms Of Periodontitis

Healthy gums are firm, pale pink, and fit perfectly to the teeth. Signs of periodontitis include:

  1. Swollen gums
  2. Bright red, dark red, or purple gums
  3. Gum that feels soft to the touch
  4. Gum that bleeds easily
  5. After brushing, the toothbrush is pink
  6. Vomiting of blood when brushing or flossing (hematemesis)
  7. Bad breath from mouth
  8. Pus is created between teeth and gums
  9. Loose teeth or tooth loss
  10. Pain during chewing
  11. New gaps are formed between teeth
  12. Separation is caused between gums and teeth, thus making your teeth take longer than normal to bite.

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: The Difference

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis is one of the most complicated topics as people consider both diseases as synonyms of each other. Gingivitis and periodontitis are periodontal diseases3. Two main differences between gingivitis and periodontitis are that gingivitis is reversible, but periodontitis is not.

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If gingivitis is not treated, it can advance in the lower bone and tissue and lead to periodontitis. The reason is that it can not be recovered due to permanent damage and bone loss of periodontitis. Complications include loss of teeth, risk of diabetes4, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, coronary artery disease.

Read more about gingivitis vs periodontitis.

Causes Of Periodontitis

In most cases, the development of periodontitis begins with dental plaque; a sticky film made up mostly of bacteria. If not treated in time, dental plaque will eventually turn into periodontitis for the following reasons:

  • Formation Of Plaque:

When starch and sugar from food interact with bacteria that usually exist in the mouth, dental plaque forms on the teeth; brushing your teeth two times a day and flossing for one time a day can help remove plaque, but it can reappear quickly.

  • Hardening Of Plaque Under The Gumline:

If dental plaque remains on the teeth, it will harden and turn into tartar below the gum line. Tartar 5is harder to remove and is full of bacteria. The longer plaque and tartar stay on the teeth, the more damage they cause. You cannot remove tartar by brushing and flossing; you need professional tooth cleaning to remove it.

  • Gum Inflammation For A Longer Period Can Cause Periodontitis.

Persistent inflammation of the gums can cause periodontitis, which eventually leads to the formation of pockets filled with plaque, tartar, and bacteria between the gums and teeth. Over time, these pockets get deeper and fill with more bacteria. If the treatment is ignored, these deep infections can cause tissue and bone loss, and eventually, you may lose one or more teeth. Also, persistent chronic inflammation can put pressure on your immune system.

Risk Factors For Periodontitis

The risk factors for periodontitis are the same as gingivitis. This is also the reason why people often get confused by reading articles on Gingivitis vs Periodontitis.

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Complications Caused By Untreated Periodontitis:

Periodontitis6 can lead to tooth loss. It is associated with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory diseases, and coronary artery disease. The bacteria that cause periodontitis can enter your blood through the gum tissue and affect the other body parts.

Surgical treatments:

These treatments can treat Gingivitis vs periodontitis.

  1. Skin flap surgery (retraction pocket surgery)
  2. Bone and tissue grafts
  3. Gingivectomy: Surgical removal of diseased gum tissue.
  4. Gingivoplasty: A surgical procedure that reshapes healthy gum tissue around the teeth.
  5. Root planing: To remove root accumulation.
  6. Guide tissue repair
  7. Stimulating tissue with protein


One of the best ways to prevent gingivitis and periodontitis from happening is by following few steps:

  1. Having Good Oral Hygiene: This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day in the morning and before going to bed for two minutes each time and flossing at least once a day. Flossing before brushing can clean loose food particles and bacteria. Good oral hygiene can prevent an environment conducive to specific bacteria that cause periodontal disease around the teeth.
  2. A Regular Visit To The Dentist: Visit your dentist regularly for cleaning, usually every 6 to 12 months for a dental exam. If you have risk factors that increase your chances of developing periodontitis, such as dry mouth, taking certain medications, or smoking, you may need to perform professional cleaning more frequently.

Having better hygiene is very necessary. Good oral hygiene will not only solve serious problems like gingivitis vs periodontitis, or any other gum disease, but it will also help your body and mouth in having good health. This will also help people move over from the topic of Gingivitis vs periodontitis in a healthy way.

Infographic That Presents 7 Best Foods For Healthy Gums
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  1. Abusleme, Loreto, et al. “Microbial signatures of health, gingivitis, and periodontitis.” Periodontology 2000 86.1 (2021): 57-78. ↩︎
  2. Jakubovics, Nicholas S., et al. “The dental plaque biofilm matrix.” Periodontology 2000 86.1 (2021): 32-56. ↩︎
  3. Herrera, David, et al. “Periodontal diseases and association with atherosclerotic disease.” Periodontology 2000 83.1 (2020): 66-89. ↩︎
  4. Care, Diabetes. “Care in diabetes—2022.” Diabetes care 45 (2022): S17. ↩︎
  5. Gonzalez, Drew E., et al. “International society of sports nutrition position stand: tactical athlete nutrition.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 19.1 (2022): 267-315. ↩︎
  6. Eke, Paul I., Wenche S. Borgnakke, and Robert J. Genco. “Recent epidemiologic trends in periodontitis in the USA.” Periodontology 2000 82.1 (2020): 257-267. ↩︎

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