Gingivitis is the initial stage of periodontal disease, when only the gum tissue is affected. Plaque and tartar buildup with its associated bacteria, causes inflamed bleeding gums. The good news is, gingivitis is easily reversible. A thorough cleaning, followed by regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing, restores gums to good health.
Periodontal disease (periodontitis) is an infection that is marked by the breakdown of structures that surround and secure the teeth. This includes bone, gums, and ligament fibers. Periodontal disease is usually a result of untreated plaque buildup but is made worse by several additional factors. Heredity, smoking, diabetes and health issues, poor diet, stress, bad habits, and clenching/grinding are among the worst offenders. Despite the fact that periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults, modern treatment and prevention can often preserve teeth indefinitely.
Early signs of gum disease (gingivitis) include redness, tenderness, bleeding, and inflammation around the gum line. Generally at this stage, a good cleaning and improved thoroughness and frequency of daily oral hygiene habits will resolve things. Your dentist and hygienist will check for hardened plaque, called tartar or calculus, above and below the gum line and may use a tool called a probe to test gums for bleeding and to measure periodontal pocket depths . All teeth have a natural crevice in the gum area surrounding them. If that crevice is deeper than 3 millimeters (a pocket), it becomes increasingly difficult to adequately clean around the tooth, and progression from gingivitis to periodontitis (periodontal disease) becomes a concern. Simply said, gingivitis is disease confined to the gum tissue and periodontitis is a progression of that disease to the bone and ligament tissue.
Deep cleaning procedures (called scaling and root planing) can effectively arrest moderate periodontal disease by removing the deposits that harbor germs which cause infection. Through this, a healthier environment is created, which is easier for you to maintain. These procedures are generally done a portion of your mouth at a time while you are numb with local anesthetic. For more severe cases, root planing might need to be followed up with some surgical procedures performed by a specialist (periodontist) to fully arrest the disease. An increased frequency of professional cleanings is typically indicated for people who have been treated for gum disease.