There are different stages of gum disease, with each stage being based on the severity of the infection. Because there are different stages of gum disease, it can be difficult to differentiate between each one. When trying to determine what stage the infection is at, it is best to begin with a visit with a general dentist.
Gum disease vs. gingivitis
Outlined below are overviews of gum disease and gingivitis. While the two do tend to overlap, there are a few key differences that are important to be aware of.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is a serious infection in the gums that causes damage to the soft tissues. If gum disease goes untreated, patients may also experience damage to their teeth, such as tooth decay. Typically, the cause of gum disease is genetics, lack of oral hygiene or skipping routine cleanings with a dentist.
Dentistis often recommend oral rinses, as well as in-depth cleaning procedures that go beneath the gums. However, if the gums have begun to recede or if there is a shift in the teeth, then more invasive procedures may be required, such as soft tissue transplants.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is typically the beginning stage of gum disease. Medically speaking, gingivitis refers to inflamed gums. When a patient suffers from gingivitis, they are likely to experience inflammation, which can appear as red, puffy or swollen gums. Typically, there is tenderness as well.
Gingivitis often occurs when there is a lack of oral hygiene or when the patient skips routine cleanings with their dentist. Often, it can be treated through a procedure known as scaling and root planing, which is just a more in-depth cleaning of the soft and hard tissues within the mouth.
Similarities and differences
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease, which means that there are symptoms that overlap. When a patient experiences overall gum disease, it is likely that the infection is severe. However, if the gums are just inflamed, then it is likely that the patient only has gingivitis. The main difference is that gingivitis is such an early form of gum disease, patients will not likely experience bleeding or pain. Additionally, the teeth will not be affected, and the gums are not likely to recede.
However, one thing that remains constant for both gingivitis and gum disease is that the patient will experience inflammation. Inflamed gums are the number-one sign that an infection is present, especially as the disease progresses.