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Gingivitis VS Periodontitis: What You Need to Know

June 24, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — ellicottcitysmiles @ 10:57 pm

Model of advanced gum diseaseDid you know tooth decay isn’t the only cause of tooth loss? Gum disease is equally devastating; however, it doesn’t just affect your oral health. Research has found several connections between the preventable infection and various health issues, like cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and Alzheimer’s disease. Although the early signs of the infection (gingivitis) may not seem concerning, if it progresses to periodontitis, you can suffer irreversible damage. Here’s what you need to know to safeguard your health and wellness. 

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a preventable infection caused by bacteria found in tartar buildup caused by improper oral hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 50% of Americans have the infection. Although it is easy to treat during the earliest stage, called gingivitis, many people don’t recognize the symptoms of the infection until it has progressed to periodontitis. Contrary to common belief, the two stages are not the same. 


Gingivitis appears as red, swollen, or bleeding gums, which can be caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking, hormonal changes, or nutritional deficiencies. Treating gingivitis is easy by making changes to your lifestyle and oral hygiene habits. Your dentist may also recommend scaling and root planing, which removes tartar from above and below the gum line. Quick treatment will resolve the infection without experiencing any long-term damage to your smile. 


Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which is an advanced stage of gum disease. Your gums and bone can pull away from your teeth, causing deep periodontal pockets that trap bacteria. The infection can spread quickly, destroying the supporting structures on your teeth, which can lead to tooth loss. Not to mention, bacteria from gum disease may enter your bloodstream. As it circulates throughout your body, it can wreak havoc on your health.

Unfortunately, a deep cleaning won’t be enough to save your smile. You’ll require a more aggressive approach to treat the infection to avoid tooth loss. You may also need extensive restorative procedures to repair any damage that has occurred, like gum grafting, bone grafting,  or tooth extractions.

Preventing Gum Disease

Although gum disease is common, it is preventable. You can invest in a healthy mouth and body by following a few simple tips:

  • Brushing: Brush your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste for 2 minutes in the morning and night.
  • Flossing: Use high-quality floss to clean between each tooth and around the gum line daily.
  • Healthy Diet: Eat a healthy diet that’s limited in sugars and starches.
  • Improved Lifestyle: Stop smoking and don’t drink alcohol in excess.
  • Visit Your Dentist: Schedule a cleaning and checkup every 6 months.

If you develop any signs of gingivitis between your regular dental appointments, contact your dentist right away.

About Dr. Reza Modarres

Dr. Modarres earned his dental degree at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry before continuing his education for 3 years to become a periodontist. He has also completed advanced education in implant dentistry and other complex restorative treatments. If you need gum disease therapy, contact our office today to request your consultation.

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