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Understanding Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)

Periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease or gum disease, starts with bacterial growth in your mouth and if not properly treated, may lead to tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue surrounding your teeth.

What's the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

Gingivitis (gum inflammation) often occurs prior to periodontitis (gum disease). But not all gingivitis results in periodontitis. Most individuals get gingivitis at some or the other point in their lives, and its mild symptoms could make it easy to ignore. But if not treated, it could lead to bigger problems for your mouth. The good news is that you can reverse or prevent it by having regular dental checkups and cleaning, flossing, and simply brushing your teeth.

Bacteria in plaque builds up in the early stage of gingivitis, causing the gums to easily bleed and become inflamed during tooth brushing. The teeth are still firmly planted inside their sockets, although the gums may be irritated. No irreversible tissue or bone damage can occur at this stage.

When you forget to rinse with mouthwash, floss and brush, a sticky film of food and bacteria called plaque starts building up around your teeth. The gunk releases acids that start to attack your teeth’s outer shell, known as enamel, and results in decay. After around 72 hours, plaque starts to harden into tartar, which forms along the gum line, making it hard to clean your gums and teeth completely. With time, this buildup inflames and irritates your gums, resulting in gingivitis.

In an individual dealing with periodontitis, the inner layer of the bone and gum start to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces between the gums and teeth start to collect debris and can also become infected. The body's immune system starts fighting the bacteria as the plaque grows and spreads below the gum line.

The body's "good" enzymes involved in fighting infections as well as poisons or toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque -- starts to break down the connective tissue and bone that hold teeth in place. As the disease spreads, the pockets begin to deepen and more bone and gum tissue gets destroyed.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Plaque is the major cause of gum disease. Nonetheless, other factors can also contribute to periodontal disease. These include:

  • Hormonal changes, like those occurring during monthly menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and puberty, tend to make gums more sensitive, making it easier for gingivitis to develop.

  • Illnesses could affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such as HIV or cancer that tend to interfere with the immune system. Since diabetes affects the body's ability to utilise blood sugar, patients suffering with this disease are at a much higher risk of developing infections, including cavities and periodontal disease.

  • Medications could also affect oral health, since a few lessen the flow of saliva, which actually has a protective effect on gums and teeth. Few drugs can result in abnormal growth of gum tissue.

  • Bad habits like smoking make it harder for gum tissue to heal or repair itself.

  • Poor oral hygiene habits like not flossing and brushing on a daily basis tend to make it easier for gingivitis to develop.

  • Family history of dental disease could also be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

Sometimes, gum disease could progress painlessly, even in the late stages of the disease, producing few obvious signs. Although the symptoms of periodontal disease are usually subtle, the condition doesn’t usually show up entirely without warning signs. Certain symptoms could point to some form of the disease. The symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Development of deep pockets between gums and teeth

  • Gums start bleeding during and after tooth brushing

  • Persistent bad taste or breath in the mouth

  • Swollen, red gums. Healthy gums should be pink and firm.

  • Shifting or loose teeth

  • Receding gums

  • Change in the way your teeth fit together upon biting down

Even if you don't seem to notice any symptoms, you still might have some degree of gum disease. In some individuals, gum disease might affect only certain teeth, like the molars. Only a dentist can help you in recognizing and determining the progression of gum disease.

How Is Gum Disease Treated?

The main aim of gum disease treatment is to promote the reattachment of healthy gums back to teeth; reduce the depth of pockets, swelling, and even reduce the risk of infection; and to stop overall disease progression. Treatment options usually depend on the stage of disease, your overall health, and how you might have responded to earlier treatments. Options could range from nonsurgical therapies that help in controlling bacterial growth to surgery in order to restore supportive tissues.

If you’ve been dealing with issues related to your gums, please contact 1 Health Medical Centre on the number +91 9562090606 to book an appointment. Our dental experts will carry out a thorough examination and will guide you on the next course of action that needs to be taken to correct your gum problems.

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