Are Gum Disease and Gingivitis the Same Thing?

Are Gum Disease and Gingivitis the Same Thing?

Posted by Alencar Family Dentistry on Jan 2 2020, 04:12 AM

Gum disease is progressive and classified into stages, each determined by the severity of the illness. To determine the stage of gum disease, it is best to visit a general dentist.

Keep reading to learn more about gum disease and gingivitis. While the symptoms of the two conditions often overlap, there are a few critical distinctions to be aware of.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection that affects the gums and soft tissues in the mouth. Typically, gum disease is caused by heredity, poor oral hygiene, or skipping bi-annual dental cleanings. Untreated gum disease may also affect the teeth, causing tooth decay or even tooth loss.

Dentists often prescribe oral rinses in addition to deep-cleaning techniques that eliminate plaque buildup under the gums. If the gums have started to recede or the teeth have shifted, more invasive procedures may be necessary, such as soft tissue transplants.

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a medical term referring to swollen gums. It is usually the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis patients have red, puffy, or inflamed gums and may also experience tenderness in the gums.

Gingivitis is most often caused by a lack of regular dental cleanings or by neglecting to practice good oral hygiene. We address it with a procedure known as scaling and root planing, which is a thorough cleaning of the mouth's soft and hard tissues.

Similarities and Distinctions

Gingivitis is a preliminary stage or form of gum disease. Its symptoms are similar to some of the symptoms of gum disease. However, generalized gum disease is characterized by a severe infection. When a patient only has irritated or swollen gums, they likely only have gingivitis. 

The main difference between gingivitis and gum disease is that gingivitis patients are unlikely to experience bleeding or discomfort, damage to the teeth, or gum recession.

The main similarity between gingivitis and gum disease is that they are both characterized by inflammation. 


Both gum disease and gingivitis may have significant consequences on your oral health if left untreated. When dealing with a gum infection, consulting a general dentist is a smart place to start. Our staff at Alencar Family Dentistry is here to assist you. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Jayme A. Oliveira Filho, call (757) 546-0301, visit our website, or our office at 711 Greenbrier Pkwy Suite 101, Chesapeake, VA 23320.

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