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What Is Gingivitis?

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is inflammation caused by bacterial growth in the mouth around the tooth and along the gum line. Unfortunately, this preventable disease can cause loss of teeth if not treated.

Is Gum Disease common?

Despite being preventable, gingivitis is quite common. An estimated 3 out of 4 American adults have gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease.

What are the stages of Gum Disease?

There are four general stages to gum disease. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to the more serious condition of periodontitis.

  • Stage 1: Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and its symptoms include inflamed or red gums that may bleed when brushed.
  • Stage 2: In early periodontitis, slight loss of bone that supports the teeth occurs even though other symptoms may not be easily observed.
  • Stage 3: In moderate periodontitis, more bone and gum tissue is destroyed and loosening of teeth may also occur.
  • Stage 4: Advanced periodontitis is the most severe stage of the disease. Symptoms become more severe, teeth can become very loose and biting and chewing may hurt. Extensive dental treatment is typically required to try to correct the damage of advanced periodontitis.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease caused by plaque buildup on teeth. If plaque isn’t properly removed, it will build up at the gum line and can result in inflammation of the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include irritated or red gums that may bleed when brushing or flossing.

Periodontitis

The term “periodontitis” is used to describe the later, more severe stages of gum disease. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, which carries symptoms and health implications such as receding gums, damage to the bone and connective tissue around teeth, and (in the severe cases) tooth loss.

While gingivitis may be treated, the effects of periodontitis are typically not reversible. It is a chronic, long-term condition that should be addressed with the help of a dental professional.

The difference between Gum Disease, Gingivitis, and Periodontitis

There may be some confusion with the medical terminology surrounding gum disease, but it’s fairly simple. Gum disease is the general term used to describe all the stages of periodontal disease – including gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis describes early (and reversible) gum disease, the kind marked by red, swollen gums that may bleed easily when brushed or flossed.

If gingivitis is not addressed, it can progress and develop into the more serious (non-reversible) stage of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis attacks gums, bone and the connective tissue that holds teeth in place, eventually loosening teeth over time to the point that they could fall out. Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.

Impact of Gum Disease

Although it is preventable, gum disease (or periodontal disease) can lead to loss of teeth if not treated.

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