Everybody knows that healthy teeth and gums are essential. Yet, the consequences of not caring for your teeth and gums have not been thoroughly researched. This article will examine the differences between periodontitis and gingivitis, so you’ll know exactly what you should be looking for when visiting your dentist for a checkup.


gingivitis periodontitis

The early stages of gingivitis are characterized by plaque accumulation in the areas between the teeth, which then causes inflammation and bleeding. While your gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly planted [1].

If you notice red, swollen gums or gums that bleed easily when brushing your teeth, you may be suffering from early-stage gingivitis. No irreversible bone damage has occurred at this stage, so it’s good to see clear signs of gingivitis! But like an old car that’s still running on motor oil from 1999, the diagnosis for long-term overall health is bad when gingivitis is left untreated. Left unattended, gingivitis can also advance to scary periodontitis.

Gingivitis is also a clear warning sign from our teeth and gums that we must be more driven about our oral and overall health. Practicing good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice daily, regular dental checkups, and daily flossing will help keep those areas clean and free of plaque buildup to prevent further damage.


gingivitis periodontitis

Periodontitis is a serious condition that may have a lasting impact on your health and well-being.

It starts with the formation of pockets between your teeth and gums. These small spaces collect debris and become infected. The body’s immune system also fights the bacteria as plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.

Over time, our immune system’s fight to save our gums is not easy. The toxins and poisons produced by bacteria in plaque team with our body’s “good” enzymes and also fight infections to weaken and break down bone and tissue that hold teeth in place. The pockets deepen, gum tissue and bone are destroyed, and teeth become loose.

Difference between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Are you wondering whether you’re experiencing gingivitis or periodontitis? Well, here’s our tip on how to tell the difference: 


When you’re chewing and suddenly you’ve experienced pain, it may signify that your periodontal disease has progressed from gingivitis to periodontitis. 


Good news for teenagers! Periodontitis is quite rare in teenagers, but they can also develop gingivitis.


If you have a persistent and unpleasant breath, this means that your gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis. This is due to the existence of excess bacteria that is present in your mouth. 

Tooth Condition

If your teeth are firmly in place, but your gums are red, irritated, and swollen, then you have gingivitis. If your tooth or teeth are loose, you have periodontitis. 

Symptoms and Causes 

Gingivitis and periodontitis are both stages of periodontal disease, but they are different things. The main difference between them is that gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, while periodontitis is an inflammation of the bone that supports your teeth.

Ensure that you’re paying close attention to your oral hygiene routine and your overall mouth health. 

Symptoms of Gingivitis

Did you know that gingivitis is one of the most common gum diseases?

You can look out for a few symptoms to tell if you have gingivitis. When your gums are infected with gingivitis, they tend to be swollen or puffy. They may also change from pale pink to dusky or dark red. You may also notice that your gums bleed easily when brushing your teeth and could be tender to the touch. Finally, one of the most detectable symptoms of gingivitis is bad breath that leaves an unpleasant taste in your mouth [2].

Symptoms of Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a gum disease that can lead to tooth loss. If you have periodontitis, it means your gums have become inflamed, swollen, and tender. At first, the only symptom of periodontitis is bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. But as the disease progresses, you’ll notice other symptoms like swollen gums and pus-filled pockets between your teeth [3].

Periodontitis can also cause painful chewing, eating problems, and bad breath.

You may need gum surgery to save your teeth from further damage if you have periodontal disease.


If you’re not taking good care of your oral health, two things could happen gingivitis and periodontitis.

A buildup of plaque also causes both gingivitis and periodontitis. Plaque can form naturally on your teeth, building up quickly. This is quite true, especially if you aren’t brushing your teeth or taking care of your oral hygiene [4].

Some lifestyle and economic factors can also increase your risk of gingivitis and periodontitis. These include smoking, pregnancy, and genetics.


gingivitis periodontitis

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of periodontal diseases — such as bleeding gums, loose teeth, or a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down — it’s important to get treatment right away.

How to Treat Gingivitis

If you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong, you will have to brush them twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush. You might also want to consider owning an electric toothbrush if you don’t already have one. Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash, which targets plaque in hard-to-reach spots, and flossing at least once a day are also important for gum health [5].

If you notice any signs of gingivitis, make an appointment with your dentist immediately! Follow their guidance to treat the problem and prevent any further infection.

The earlier we can detect these problems, the better off we all are!

How to Treat Periodontitis

If you have periodontitis, then you know how difficult it can be to treat. This advanced form of gum disease is not as easy to fix as gingivitis. This depends on the stage of your periodontitis, your dentist may recommend one of several options. These might include surgery.

You should note that if you have serious periodontitis and want to keep your teeth for life, then you will likely need surgery. This is because the infection has spread too far into your gums, causing them to pull away from the tooth. In this case, your dentist will remove all but a thin layer of gum tissue around each tooth.

However, this is only an option if there are no other health issues that make it unsafe for you to undergo surgery. For example, if you are pregnant or have diabetes, then surgery is not recommended because there could be complications during surgery that could put your life at risk.

Non-Surgical Options:

  • Use dental instruments to remove those filthy bacteria from your teeth and gums. 
  • Using topical or oral antibiotics to end the infection-causing bacteria. 
  • Talk to your dentist about root planning. This smooths the root surfaces, discourages further buildup, and removes bacteria. 

Surgical Options:

  • Flap Surgery: This lifts a section of your gums, making it easier for the root to be cleaned better. 
  • Bone Grafts: Prevent tooth loss by holding your tooth in place. This is performed when the periodontitis has caused enough damage to the bone surrounding your affected tooth. 
  • Soft Tissue Grafts: This reinforces the damaged soft tissue which is caused by receding gums. 
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration: It encourages the regrowth of any bone destroyed by bacteria.

Gum disease is more than just a nuisance—it can be a real threat to your oral health. Periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease, can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

The treatment of periodontitis is much more compound than the treatment of gingivitis, which is why seeing your dentist for regular appointments is important. You always want to follow the guidelines they provide for your dental hygiene.

When you’re in the chair, make sure you’re comfortable and ask any questions that come up. You must feel like your dentist is listening to your concerns and helping you address them. In addition to healthy gums, this will also help ensure that your teeth stay strong and healthy as well.

Diagnosing Gingivitis and Periodontitis

gingivitis periodontitis

There are different ways your dentist may diagnose whether you have gingivitis or periodontitis. 


Your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums, mouth, and tongue for signs of plaque and inflammation.

Your dentist will measure the pocket depth of the groove between your gums and your teeth by inserting a dental probe beside your tooth beneath your gum line. Pockets deeper than 4 mm may also indicate gum disease.


Your dentist can help determine whether you have periodontitis and how severe it is by reviewing your medical history and performing a dental exam.

Your dentist will likely ask about any factors that may be contributing to your symptoms, such as taking certain medications or smoking that cause dry mouth. They’ll examine your mouth to look for plaque and tartar buildup, check for easy bleeding and measure the pocket depth of the groove that is between your gums and teeth by also placing a dental probe beside your tooth beneath your gumline at several sites throughout your mouth. 

Your dentist may take dental X-rays to confirm any bone loss in areas where they observe deeper pocket depths.

Bottom Line

Now that you are aware of the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis, you can take steps to ensure your gums do not become inflamed. Make an appointment with your dentist if you see any signs of gum disease or tooth pain. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References And Fact-Checking

  • InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Gingivitis and periodontitis: Overview. [Updated 2020 Feb 27]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279593/
  • Gasner NS, Schure RS. Periodontal Disease. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554590/
  • Periodontal Disease | Oral Health Conditions | Division of Oral Health | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html
  • Garbee W., Jr (1996). Strategies to inhibit formation, plaque buildup. Dental teamwork9(5), 10–13.
  • Kato, T., Iijima, H., Ishihara, K., Kaneko, T., Hirai, K., Naito, Y., & Okuda, K. (1990). Antibacterial effects of Listerine on oral bacteria. The Bulletin of Tokyo Dental College31(4), 301–307.


  • Kim Monasterial, BSN

    Kim is a Registered Nurse and has been a medical freelance writer for more than six years. Starting off as a writer, Kim moved to proofreading and editing all the articles posted on HealthPlugged. She’s an enthusiast for health and wellness, being one to keep herself fit and adventurous for outdoor activities. LinkedIn


Kim is a Registered Nurse and has been a medical freelance writer for more than six years. Starting off as a writer, Kim moved to proofreading and editing all the articles posted on HealthPlugged. She’s an enthusiast for health and wellness, being one to keep herself fit and adventurous for outdoor activities. LinkedIn