Most people often confuse gingivitis with periodontal disease since they have the same symptoms, but note that these two conditions are entirely different from each other.
Gingivitis and periodontal disease are the two most common oral health conditions that affect humans. However, their main difference lies in where the source of infection or inflammation originates.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth, while periodontal disease is the inflammation of the bones located underneath the gums.
Periodontal disease and gingivitis often have the same causative factors like poor dental hygiene, underlying systemic diseases that affect the healing process, smoking, poor nutrition, stress and even hormonal changes that may occur during pregnancy or puberty. Adding all these factors to the continual formation of tartar along the gum line, gingivitis will occur.
The invading plaque and tartar formation will cause the gums to recede, causing them to bleed. The unhealthy oral environment will also cause the infection-causing bacteria to grow. When this occurs, the gums will not only bleed, but also get inflamed. This condition is called gingivitis or gum disease.
While the inflammation of the gums occurs, disease-causing bacteria have already long infiltrated into the soft bone tissues below the gum lines. When the bones are inflamed, it means that periodontal disease has already developed.
People with periodontal disease often report tooth pain, while those with gingivitis will primarily report bleeding gums only.
Sometimes it is difficult for people with periodontal disease to differentiate the root of the pain since tooth pain can radiate to different parts of the jaw, face, or head. Moreover, people with gingivitis can experience pain and tenderness over their swollen gums.
Gingivitis and periodontal disease can occur alone, or at the same time. They can also share the symptoms, so it is better to consult a dentist for an accurate diagnosis and to get proper treatment.
Treatment of periodontal disease and gingivitis will typically involve root scaling and planing, medication and following proper oral health practices. In root scaling and planing, the accumulated tartar is scraped off using an ultrasonic device. The gum line is allowed to heal without the hard mineral deposits that were laced with bacteria.
Antibiotics are given to treat ongoing infection, and prevent other forms of infections from occurring. Antibiotic strips can also be inserted into the tooth cavities and root to hasten treatment of periodontal disease. It is also important to follow strict dental practices from now on to ensure that gingivitis or periodontal disease does not recur.
Moreover, it is important that patients realize the importance of maintaining oral health practices all throughout their lifetime. It is easier to treat and reverse gum and periodontal diseases at their earlier stages, than when these have already worsened.