Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis

You’ve probably heard both the terms gingivitis and periodontitis, but do you know what they are? Do you know the differences between the two? Do you know how they affect your teeth and gums? Let’s learn about both of them. 


Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by a build-up of plaque due to bacteria in the mouth. It is a mild form of gum disease, and the symptoms can include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Dark red gums
  • Gums that bleed while brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Tender gums

Most often gingivitis is caused by poor dental hygiene. When left untreated it can lead to a more serious form of gum disease, periodontitis.


Periodontitis is an infection of the gums. If the plaque is allowed to sit below the gumline, it causes the gums to weaken and destroys the bones that support your teeth. Periodontitis symptoms are:

  • Swollen gums
  • Red or purple gums
  • Tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth
  • New spaces developing between your teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • A change in the way your bite lines up

Periodontitis is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. But it can be prevented.

When you treat gingivitis before it advances to periodontitis, you will find that your risk of tooth loss decreases. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”