- Gum disease (Periodontitis)
- What is the difference between periodontitis and gingivitis?
- What are the stages of periodontitis?
- What are the symptoms of periodontitis?
- What are the different types of periodontitis?
- What are the causes, risk factors and prevention for periodontitis?
- How is periodontitis diagnosed and treated?
- FAQ regarding gum disease
What is the difference between periodontitis and gingivitis?
Gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, meaning that it develops before periodontitis occurs. Periodontitis refers to an infection that leads to the destruction of bone and/tissue, whereas gingivitis refers to the inflammation of the gums specifically.
In the case of gingivitis, plaque and bacteria accumulate on the teeth’s surface, this leads to the gums becoming inflamed and red, the gums may also bleed easily when exposed to brushing. The teeth are not affected by the infection, besides the evident plaque build-up that is found on them.
Plaque is a sticky film or coating that develops on the teeth and contains bacteria. When plaque is not cleaned off when still in its soft form through daily brushing and flossing, then it forms tartar. This is a hard substance that is yellow-like in colour, can only be removed through professional cleaning conducted by your dentist or oral hygienist. Tartar can threaten the health of your gums and teeth and can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
Cavities are permanent holes in the teeth, which enlarge as bacteria and food exacerbate the formation of these holes if proper oral hygiene is not maintained.
When your mouth is healthy it will consist of teeth and bones that are surrounded by and connected with gum tissue that fits snugly around the teeth. There is no room for movement.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis.
The point where your teeth meet your gum line is known as the gingival sulcus. In the case of periodontitis, your gums will recede from the teeth (i.e. pull away from the teeth) and form large pockets between the teeth and the gum line. The reason for the gums pulling away from the teeth is due to the infection spreading to the tissue beneath your teeth. Debris and bacteria then collect in these pockets and become infected. As these pockets (i.e. gingival sulcus) enlarge and become infected they develop into gaps known as periodontal pockets.
Once bacteria begin to reach the roots of your teeth and jawbone, they will slowly release toxins that wear away the bone and dental tissues, as these tissues no longer have the protection of healthy gums. The effects of this may include bone craters, tooth loss and/or the severe deterioration of the supporting bone.
The main difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that the effects of gingivitis are reversible, whereas those of periodontitis are not, as the progression of the infection involves damage to the supporting structures of your teeth.