About This Condition
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums (gingivae), usually caused by bacteria.
Periodontitis is a deeper and more serious inflammation of both the gingivae and tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth.
Both common conditions are often progressive and can eventually result in loss of the underlying bone that supports the teeth. After age 30, periodontal disease is responsible for more tooth loss than are dental cavities. Severe periodontitis sometimes requires surgery to repair damaged gum tissue.
Gingivitis is usually painless, although the gums may be red, swollen, and bleed easily with brushing. There can also be a bad taste in the mouth or persistent bad breath (halitosis). In advanced stages of gingivitis, the gums recede, exposing the nerve roots, and the teeth may become loose. This may be an indication of periodontitis.
Treatment usually involves a regimen of good oral hygiene, including correct tooth brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. Severe cases might require gum surgery.