The key difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that gingivitis is the inflammation of the gingiva, which is a part of the gum around the base of the teeth, while periodontitis is the inflammation of the periodontium, which is the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth.
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a serious gum infection that can damage the gum and bone that surround the teeth. In its early stage, it is known as gingivitis. In its more serious form, it is known as periodontitis. Periodontal disease is more often seen in adults. Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the biggest threats to dental health.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Gingivitis
3. What is Periodontitis
4. Similarities – Gingivitis and Periodontitis
5. Gingivitis vs Periodontitis in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Gingivitis vs Periodontitis
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gingiva, which is a part of the gum around the base of the teeth. It is a less serious type of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is also a common and mild form of gum disease. It is very important to treat gingivitis promptly as it can lead to tooth loss and a much more serious gum disease known as periodontitis. The most common cause of periodontitis is poor oral hygiene. This encourages bacteria to form plaque on teeth which causes inflammation of the surrounding gum tissues. The plaque may consist of bacteria, such as Fusobacterium nucleatum, Lachnospiraceae species, Lautropia species, Prevotella oulorum and Rothia dentocariosa.
The symptoms of gingivitis may include swollen or puffy gums, dusky red or dark red gums, gums that easily bleed while brushing or flossing, bad breath, receding gum, and tender gum. The risk factors include poor oral hygiene, smoking or chewing tobacco, old age, dry mouth, poor nutrition (lack of vitamin C), dental restoration that doesn’t fit properly, conditions that affect immunity, leukemia, HIV, cancer, certain drugs such as phenytoin and calcium channel blockers, hormonal changes, genetics, and medical conditions like certain viral and fungal infections. This condition can be diagnosed through reviewing dental and medical history, examination of mouth, gum, and teeth, measuring pocket depth, and dental X-ray.
Furthermore, the treatments for gingivitis include scaling, root planning, using mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine or hydrogen peroxide, flossing, interdental brushes, using oral irrigators with a toothpaste containing antibiotics such amoxicillin, cephalexin, minocycline, dental restoration, and ongoing care.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is the inflammation of the periodontium, which is the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. It is a serious gum infection that causes damage to the soft tissue. Without treatment, it can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. Periodontitis can also cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis is typically caused due to poor oral hygiene. It is due to the formation of plaque and tarter by bacteria that trigger inflammation in the gum.
The risk factors for this condition may include smoking (recreational drugs such as marijuana), type 2 diabetes, obesity, hormonal changes in women, conditions impacting the immune system like HIV or leukemia, medications that reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, gingivitis, genetics, and poor nutrition including deficiency of vitamin C. The symptoms of this condition may include swollen or puffy gums, right red, purplish gum, tender gums when touched, easily bleeding gums, pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing, spitting out blood after brushing, bad breath, pus between teeth and gum, loose teeth, or tooth loss, painful chewing, new spaces developing between the teeth, gums that pull away from the teeth, and the change in the way the teeth fit together when bite.
This condition can be diagnosed through reviewing medical history, examining the mouth, measuring the pocket depth, and dental X-rays. Furthermore, the non-surgical treatments for periodontitis include scaling, root planning, and using oral or topical antibiotics. The surgical treatments for periodontitis include flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery), soft tissue graft, bone grafting, guided tissue regeneration, and application of tissue-stimulating proteins.
What are the Similarities Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
- Gingivitis and periodontitis are two types of periodontal diseases.
- Both conditions are mainly due to poor oral hygiene and plaques formation by bacteria that cause gum inflammation.
- Both conditions can be diagnosed by similar methods.
- Adults are mainly affected by both conditions.
- They are treatable conditions.
What is the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gingiva, which is a part of the gum around the base of the teeth, while periodontitis is the inflammation of the periodontium, which is the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. Thus, this is the key difference between gingivitis and periodontitis. Furthermore, gingivitis is a more common and mild form of periodontal disease, while periodontitis is a less common and more serious form of periodontal disease.
The below infographic presents the differences between gingivitis and periodontitis in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Gingivitis vs Periodontitis
Gingivitis and periodontitis are two types of periodontal diseases. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gingiva, which is a part of the gum around the base of the teeth, while periodontitis is the inflammation of the periodontium, which is the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. So, this summarizes the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis.
1. Hersh, Erica. “Gum Disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis).” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 Dec. 2021.
2. Cafasso, Jacquelyn. “Periodontitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 23 May 2017.
1. “Gingivitis-before” By Onetimeuseaccount – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Periodontitis 01” By Francisco B. Teixeira, Miki T. Saito, Filipe C. Matheus, Rui D. Prediger, Elizabeth S. Yamada, Cristiane S. F. Maia, Rafael R. Lima1 – Periodontitis and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Possible Comorbidity between Oral Chronic Inflammatory Condition and Neuroinflammation In: Front Aging Neurosci. 2017; 9: 327. DOI 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00327 PMC 5649154, PMID 29085294  (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia