What’s the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?


Gingivitis and periodontitis are often used as interchangeable terms. However, they describe two different stages of gum disease.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a mild and relatively common form of gum disease that is commonly caused by poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis occurs when plaque, a sticky layer of bad bacteria, builds up on the teeth; this causes the gums to become inflamed and bleed during brushing or flossing. While the gums may be irritated, the teeth remain firmly rooted in their sockets and no permanent bone or tissue damage occurs. When left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.

What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis is more commonly known as gum disease; it’s an infection that causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. Plaque, food, and other debris accumulates in the pockets, causing further inflammation and infection. As the body attempts to fight the infection, the bone and tissue that hold teeth in place can begin to break down. In fact, periodontal disease is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults.

While plaque is a primary cause of gum disease, there are a number of other risk factors including:

- Hormonal changes
- Smoking
- Tobacco use
- Illnesses (HIV, cancer, etc.)
- Family history of gum disease

Preventing gingivitis and periodontitis

Gingivitis and periodontitis are both preventable conditions. Here are a number of good oral health habits that can help protect you against gum disease:

- Brush and floss daily: Brushing removes plaque from the surface of the teeth, while flossing removes plaque from between the teeth.
- Eat a balanced diet: A diet low in artificial sugar and high in fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables can help improve oral health.
- Regularly visit a dental professional: The American Dental Association recommends that all adults visit a dental professional at least once per year; if you are at higher risk for or suffer from gum disease or other oral health problems, more frequent visits may be recommended.
- Choose gum and mints wisely: Many of us pop in mints or gum after meals to help freshen breath. However, products containing xylitol are clinically proven to help reduce bad bacteria in the mouth. At 4ever Mints, all of our products include this scientifically-proven ingredient. 4ever Mints give you the confidence that comes with fresh breath – and a healthier mouth!