Two dental conditions that people tend to mistake for one another are gingivitis and periodontitis. This is because they are both gum diseases that have much of the same symptoms. One thing is for sure: nobody wants to have gum disease.

It’s important to know that periodontitis actually happens when gingivitis is left untreated. Think of it as an unwanted evolution due to the severity of your condition.

If things are too late for preventive dental care, then you’ll need to get attention from a dentist as soon as possible. To get the right treatment, you should know some of the differences that can help you tell whether you have gingivitis or periodontitis.

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a mild gum disease that is caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth. This can build up due to stress and bad oral hygiene. Although mild, it should be treated as soon as possible so that it doesn’t worsen.

What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?

You may be experiencing gingivitis if you notice:

  • Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
  • Random bleeding
  • Gums that are puffy, red, or swollen
  • Bad breath that won’t go away

Can Gingivitis Be Treated?

The good news is that gingivitis is very treatable. In its earliest stages, you can actually get away with simply improving your dental habits. Regular flossing and brushing can help naturally get rid of plaque build-up and allow your mouth to restore itself.

Additionally, your dentist may conduct professional cleaning to get rid of the pesky tartar and plaque formations throughout your gum line and in between teeth.

As an at-home treatment, you may also be prescribed antiseptic mouthwash to combat the bacteria that cause gingivitis.

What Is Periodontitis?

When gingivitis is left untreated, it becomes periodontitis. It is still a gum disease, but with severe inflammation, pain, and more risks. If periodontitis progresses, teeth can loosen because of damage to the soft tissue.

There are five stages of periodontal disease, and the worst stages include significant bone loss. Risk factors that can worsen this include smoking, poor oral hygiene, and untreated gingivitis. 

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontitis?

Periodontitis can show more severe symptoms that you’ll start seeing as it progresses. These symptoms include:

  • Gum recession, or gums pulling away from the teeth
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or at random times
  • Pus between gums and teeth due to abscess formation
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Discoloration of the gums
  • Pain while chewing
  • Red gums
  • Swelling gums
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Loose teeth
  • Discomfort or pain in the gum area

Can Periodontitis Be Treated?

Although problematic, periodontitis can be treated. It just takes more effort. Because of its severe nature, you should get to an emergency dentist if you notice any of the worse symptoms.

Aside from improving your oral hygiene practices, dentists will prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to treat the condition. They will also likely conduct a professional dental cleaning session to get rid of tartar and plaque. The cleaning will also help with gum recession.

If your case is particularly severe, a dentist may need to conduct open surgery to clean the root of the afflicted teeth and reattach any loose teeth.


Whether you have gingivitis or periodontitis, it’s best to see a dentist right away, so things don’t get worse. Your quality of life and smile will be much better when your gum disease is treated.

Dental First is the top-rated dental clinic for gum disease treatment in Troy. Reach out to us for quality, integrity, comfort, and comprehensive dental care.