What Is The Difference Between Periodontal Disease and Gingivitis?


The words “periodontal disease” or “periodontitis” and “gingivitis” are often confused for each other, but in truth, they are vastly different conditions with stark differences from each other.

By definition, gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums that is usually the result of the overabundance of plaque on the teeth. The most common signs include bleeding and red or swollen gums, but sometimes, gingivitis can go unnoticed, which is why it’s often left untreated.

On the other hand, periodontal disease is a much more serious form of gum disease. Though, it can also progress from gingivitis.

With periodontal disease, bleeding gums are the least of your worries and the many signs are far more noticeable. Included would be mild to intense pain when chewing or biting, poor alignment of teeth, receding gums, bleeding gums, mouth sores and sensitive or loose teeth.

To help you further differentiate gingivitis from the more serious periodontal disease, here are a few tips:

  • Periodontal disease is very rare among children and teenagers, but common in middle-aged adults. Gingivitis affects people, regardless of age.


  • Gingivitis rarely comes with any kind of pain. In fact, as mentioned earlier, gingivitis often goes unnoticed. If you’re already suffering from pain, especially when you’re chewing, it may be a sign that you’re suffering from periodontal disease.


  • Gingivitis still will not affect your teeth just yet, so they should still be firmly in place. Meanwhile, if your teeth are already starting to become loose, it’s a clear sign that you may already be suffering from periodontitis.


  • While gingivitis may make your gums appear red or swollen, it won’t cause any unpleasant changes in your breath. If your breath has begun to start smelling bad, it’s usually because of the excess bacteria found in your mouth and a clear sign that you may already be suffering from periodontal disease.

Treatment Options

There’s also a huge difference between how dentists treat gingivitis from periodontal disease.

With gingivitis, dentists usually start by cleaning teeth to get rid of excess plaque and tartar. Special mouthwashes and topical treatments may also be prescribed for additional cleaning at home. However, treatment for periodontal disease is much more serious, as it includes the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials.

The following are other treatment options available for those with periodontal disease.

  • Tooth scaling and root planing – This two-step procedure includes scraping off the tartar on your teeth and then smoothing out the rough spots on the roots to prevent bacteria from coming back so easily.
  • Flap Surgery – In more severe cases, patients are referred to periodontist for flap surgery. This procedure involves removing the tartar from the pockets that have begun to form in the mouth. Then, the pockets are stitched to close them up and to allow the gum tissue to cover the teeth once again. By reducing the number of pockets, further complications are prevented and both brushing, as well as flossing becomes easier.


  • Bone and tissue grafts – The most severe cases of periodontal disease often see the bone and tissue surrounding the teeth destroyed by bacteria. In these cases, bone and/or tissue grafts are necessary to replace the infected tissue.

To sum it all up, periodontal disease is far more serious compared to gingivitis. Though, it is possible that gingivitis, if left unchecked, may progress to periodontal disease, but that isn’t always the case.

Either way, preventing both gingivitis and periodontal disease is easy – you can do that by brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash regularly, as well as by visiting your dentist often for dental checkups and professional cleaning.