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Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Gingivitis and Periodontitis are both periodontal diseases. The major difference between the two is that gingivitis is reversible, while periodontitis is not.

The reason for that is that there is permanent damage and loss of bone in periodontitis, that cannot be recovered. The complications include tooth loos, increased risk for diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and coronary artery disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress and spread to the underlying bone and tissue and can result in periodontitis.


What is Gingivitis?

The gingiva term is used for the gums i.e. the visible mucosa around the teeth. It is a mild form of gum disease that causes redness, irritation and inflammation in the gums. The most common cause of this disease is poor oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, regular flossing and use of mouthwash can help, prevent and reverse gingivitis.


What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where the gums are seriously infected and the disease can damage the gums and the jaw bone permanently. Periodontitis cannot be reversed. The chronic infection damages the gingiva, soft tissues around the teeth, ligaments and the underlying alveolar bone. It can lead to permanent loss of teeth. Gingivitis (gum inflammation) usually precedes periodontitis (gum disease).


Difference between Gingivitis and Periodontitis

  1. Definition


It is the mild infection of the gums. There is mild inflammation, bad breath and redness involved as well.


It is a serious gingiva infection that damages the gums and the jawbone permanently. It could lead to permanent loss of teeth.

  1. Causes


  • Poor oral hygiene that causes bacteria to build up plaque in the mouth.
  • Skin disease, particularly erosive lichen planus


When gingivitis is not treated in time, it progresses to periodontitis. Bacteria from the plaque enters the bloodstream and damages the gingiva, ligaments and the jaw bones. The untreated gingiva pull farther away from the teeth until a dental probe can fit 3-5 mm deep into the space. The teeth eventually fall out.

  1. Symptoms


Patients with gingivitis may show symptoms like:

  • Puffy, swollen and dusky red gums
  • Sensitive teeth, tender gums that bleed easily
  • Mild foul breath that can go away with proper dental care


Patients with the more advanced periodontitis may show symptoms like:

  • Inflamed, tender, bright red or purplish gums
  • Severe receding gums
  • Deep periodontal pockets
  • Chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Pus between the teeth and the gums
  • Misaligned and Loose teeth
  1. Treatment


Treatment for gingivitis includes:

  • Descaling which involves deep teeth cleaning to get rid of plaque and tartar
  • Brushing teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush, dental floss and use of mouthwash
  • Fluoride / Triclosan toothpaste (toothpaste which includes a broad spectrum antibacterial ingredient)
  • Treatment of underlying conditions
  • Professional dental care


Treatment for periodontitis includes:

Non-surgical treatments

  • Scaling
  • Root planning
  • Antibiotics

Surgical treatments

  • Flap Surgery (Pocket reduction surgery)
  • Bone and Tissue Grafts
  • Gingivectomy -Surgical removal of the gum tissue that is diseased
  • Gingivoplasty – Surgical procedure to reshape healthy gum tissue enveloping the teeth.
  • Root planning to remove build-up from the roots of the teeth
  • Guided tissue restoration
  • Tissue stimulating proteins
  1. Risk factors


  • Pregnancy
  • Chewing or smoking tobacco
  • Dry mouth
  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes


  • Conditions associated with compromised immune system
  • Medications that cause, drug induced gingival overgrowth (For example some calcium channel blockers, cyclosporine)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Acute diabetes


Summary of Gingivitis Vs.  Periodontitis

The points of difference between Gingivitis and Periodontitis have been summarized below:

Dr. Amita Fotedar -Dr

Research Consultant: PhD in Environmental Sciences at History of working in Elite Research Institutes like United Nations Development Program
Dr Amita Fotedar is an experienced Research Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in elite Research Institutes like United Nations Development Programme, Istanbul, Turkey, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Srilanka.
Skilled in Biological Sciences, Environmental Health, Natural Resources, Water Resource Management, and Renewable Energy, she has a PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Jammu, India. Apart from her PhD, she has a Post Graduate Diploma in International Studies from International Pacific University, New Zealand Campus, and has also been rewarded a certification in Climate Studies from Harvard University (EdX). She is a recipient of Academic Excellence Award from International Pacific University, New Zealand campus. At present she is pursuing MicroMasters in Sustainable Energy from The University of Queensland, Australia.
She is a Co- founder and Research Advisor for a New Zealand based Sustainability and Environmental Services Entity and is also a member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association at SDG Academy, offering mentorship (a collaborative network of academic and research institutions under the auspices of UN Secretary-General). She has around 35 national and international publications to her credit.
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References :

[0]Hashemipour, M. A., Afshar, A. J., Borna, R., Seddighi, B., & Motamedi, A. (2013). Gingivitis and periodontitis as a risk factor for stroke: A case-control study in the Iranian population. Dental research journal, 10(5), 613.

[1]Pihlstrom, B. L., & Ammons, W. F. (1997). Treatment of gingivitis and periodontitis. Research, Science and Therapy Committee of the American Academy of Periodontology. Journal of periodontology, 68(12), 1246-1253.

[2]Sreenivasan, P. K., Prasad, K. V. V., & Javali, S. B. (2016). Oral health practices and prevalence of dental plaque and gingivitis among Indian adults. Clinical and experimental dental research, 2(1), 6-17.

[3]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/81/Zahnwanderung_wegen_Periodontitis_OK_02.JPG/640px-Zahnwanderung_wegen_Periodontitis_OK_02.JPG

[4]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/ba/Gingivitis-before-and-after-3.jpg/551px-Gingivitis-before-and-after-3.jpg

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