How to Protect Your Gums from Gingivitis and Periodontitis

When you think about your oral health, your teeth are probably the first to come to mind. But there’s another essential structure in your mouth: your gums! Your gums are the soft tissue surrounding your teeth. And when your gums are strong and healthy, your teeth are, too. 

Unfortunately, just as your teeth are susceptible to cavities, your gums are susceptible to disease, too. Gum disease is a general classification for many diseases that hurt the gums. Two common types are gingivitis and periodontitis. Both cause pain, inflammation and more. However, there are critical differences between the two conditions. Below, the experts at Elkhart Periodontics and Implants explore the symptoms and differences of both diseases.

Watch for These Signs to Spot Painful Gum Disease

Gingivitis is a common and painful gum disease caused by plaque buildup on the teeth. This plaque buildup results from poor oral hygiene, such as smoking, drinking or consuming excessive sugar or not brushing and flossing regularly. Plaque bacteria irritate the gums, leading to swelling, redness and tenderness. 

Symptoms of gingivitis include:

  1. Swollen or puffy gums
  2. Red or dusky gums
  3. Gums that bleed easily, especially during brushing or flossing
  4. Bad breath 
  5. Receding gums
  6. Tender gums
  7. Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

Addressing gingivitis promptly can prevent it from progressing into more severe forms of gum disease. One way to prevent gingivitis is regular dental care, including proper oral hygiene practices and professional cleanings. Patients can also prioritize eating a healthy and balanced diet, limiting sugary foods and drinks and scheduling cleanings every six months. 

How to Know if Your Gingivitis Has Progressed

When gingivitis remains untreated for an extended period, it becomes periodontitis. Periodontitis is a severe stage of gum disease characterized by swelling, inflammation and infection of the gums. It is so severe that it damages the surrounding structures that support the teeth, which can lead to loose or missing teeth. 

Symptoms of periodontitis include:

  1. Persistent bad breath
  2. Swollen or puffy gums
  3. Gums that bleed easily, even with minimal pressure
  4. Receding gums that make the teeth appear longer
  5. Formation of deep pockets between the gums and teeth
  6. Loose or shifting teeth
  7. Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  8. Pain or discomfort while chewing
  9. Gum abscesses (pus-filled pockets)
  10. Changes in the alignment or spacing of teeth

Periodontitis requires prompt treatment by a dental professional. Without treatment, periodontitis can decrease your quality of life and cause incredible pain. Treatment may involve deep cleaning procedures, such as scaling and root planing, to remove plaque and tartar below the gum line. Surgical interventions or other advanced treatments may be necessary to restore oral health and prevent tooth loss in severe cases. In addition, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups can also help prevent periodontitis.

Schedule a Consultation Today

The best course of action to prevent gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene: brush and floss regularly, eat a nutritious diet and avoid smoking and other activities that damage your teeth. But if you’re experiencing gingivitis or periodontitis symptoms, it’s time to consult an expert periodontist. Although gingivitis and periodontitis are painful conditions, there are treatments available. We perform soft tissue grafting at Elkhart Periodontics and Implants to restore lost or damaged gum tissue. In addition, we offer state-of-the-art laser therapy that can treat certain gum diseases. So if you’re experiencing swelling, pain or other symptoms of gum disease, schedule your appointment today!

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