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What's the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

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Proper oral hygiene habits can help ensure that gingivitis and periodontitis don’t happen to you. When plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens, it can result in severe damage to the teeth and gums. There are many stages of periodontal disease in which gingivitis is the first and the only reversible stage. At Premier Periodontics, we offer surgical and nonsurgical treatments to resolve periodontal disease. To schedule an exam with our experienced periodontal specialists to discuss treatment options, reach out to one of our convenient locations in Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia, or Redmond, WA.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is gum inflammation and, when left untreated, can progress to more serious stages of periodontal disease, such as periodontitis. Plaque accumulates in the areas between the teeth, which inflame the gums. Even though gums are irritated, gum recession does not occur until later stages of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is a warning sign from the teeth and gums that you must be more proactive about your oral hygiene routine. There is also no irreversible bone damages during gingivitis. This makes it important for those diagnosed with gingivitis to visit our office for a routine dental cleaning that can remove this plaque and restore your oral health.

What causes gingivitis?

There are many factors that may increase your risk of developing gingivitis, including:

  1. Smoking: In addition to being one of the biggest risk factors for gum disease, smoking also lowers the chances that treatment will be effective.

  2. Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing or flossing regularly can lead to the onset of gingivitis.

  3. Hormonal changes: Hormone changes, like those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause can lead to an increased chance of sensitivity and inflammation in your gums. Taking care of your teeth and gums will help to reduce this risk.

  4. Poor diet: Poor nutrition deprives your body of important vitamins and minerals. This makes it more difficult to fight off infections, such as gum disease.

  5. Chronic disease: Diabetes, HIV, or cancer are all examples of medical conditions that make you more susceptible to fighting infection. Our periodontal specialists can help you establish an effective oral hygiene routine that will reduce your risk of developing gum disease.

What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated and periodontal disease advances. When periodontitis develops, the inner layer of the gum and bone pulls away from the teeth and periodontal pockets form with harmful bacteria. Plaque spreads and grows below the gumline, which can lead to tooth and bone loss. This advanced stage of gum disease can lead to poor tooth alignment, gum recession, and clear pockets between the teeth and gums. For our more advanced periodontal disease patients, we can use a perioscopy during a comprehensive dental exam to measure their periodontal pockets, which helps us provide effective treatment. Our periodontal specialists at Premier Periodontics can help treat this serious gum infection at one of our convenient locations in Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia, and Redmond, WA.

Periodontal disease treatments

The periodontal disease treatment that will work best for you is determined by the severity of your gum disease. Treating gum disease as early as possible minimizes damage and reduces the chances of tooth loss.

Some common periodontal treatments that we use include:

  1. Dental cleaning: During a routine dental cleaning, we remove all plaque and tartar above and below the gumline. If we suspect any gum disease, we will recommend more frequent dental cleanings.

  2. Scaling and root planing: For gum disease cases found early, scaling and root planing is effective. Scaling and root planing is a deep-cleaning and nonsurgical procedure done while the patient is under local anesthesia. Plaque and tartar are both scraped away from above and below the gumline. Rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth with planing. By smoothing these rough spots, we remove bacteria and provide a clean surface for your gums to properly reattach.

  3. Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery: For more advanced stages of periodontal disease, such as periodontitis, surgery may be necessary. The gums are lifted back and any tartar is removed. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed where any disease-causing bacteria may be found. Your gums are then placed so that they fit snugly around your teeth. This will reduce the space between the gum and tooth.

  4. Bone grafts: This uses fragments of your own bone, donated bone, or even synthetic bone to replace any bone destroyed by gum disease. This procedure promotes regrowth of bone, which helps make your teeth more stable. Soft tissue grafts can also be used to reinforce thin gums or even to fill in places where gum recession has occurred.

  5. LANAP laser gum surgery: Our periodontal specialists use this surgery instead of traditional surgery because it is less painful and reduces sensitivity post-op. Recovery time is also much shorter.

Learn about treatment for gingivitis and periodontitis today

When left untreated, gum disease will continue to worsen. At Premier Periodontics, we work with our patients to help them improve their gum health and to avoid re-infection or progression of periodontal disease. Call our team today to learn more about our periodontal disease treatment options and to schedule an appointment with a skilled periodontist at one of our convenient locations in Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia, and Redmond, WA.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.