Gum Disease in Plain English

What is the difference between Gingivitis, Receding Gums and Gum Disease?


What is the difference between Gingivitis, Receding Gums and Gum Disease?

What is the difference between Gingivitis, Receding Gums and Gum Disease?

The main difference between Gingivitis and Gum Disease is that Gingivitis is Inflammation of the soft tissue around your teeth and Gum Disease is Infection of the gum and bone that supports your teeth. They are both caused by the same agent, Plaque and tartar build up, bacteria and trauma.

Inflammation is the swelling of tissues that happens when you sustain an injury. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, your thumb will get swollen, but since the hammer stopped hitting, the swelling will eventually subside

If on the other hand, you get a splinter in your foot, and you don’t get it out, there will be inflammation at first, but eventually, your body will start a reaction to get rid of the foreign object. Your defense mechanism kicks into action and starts sending chemicals to destroy the splinter and “kill” the tissue around it. It becomes infected and a pocket of pus (dead tissue) develops, carving a path that allows drainage of toxins from the infected area to the outside.


Receding Gums is the way the gums scar for some individuals. It happens due to severe friction from brushing, compression from teeth grinding, inflammation or infection of the gums and even from cheek muscle pull. Once receded, gums can only be placed back through surgical procedures that involve grafting of tissue or detaching and repositioning the gums.


GIngivitis is usually reversible once the causing stimulus has been removed. It may also be caused by certain medications and from dry mouth due to mouth breathing.


In your mouth, the tartar build up is stuck like barnacles to a pier. Gum disease is the reaction your immune support has to kick the tartar build up out of your system, the only problem, your tooth and tartar build up have become one, so Gum Disease is your body killing the bone and membrane that holds the teeth in order to get rid of the offending agent.

Another common cause for Gum Disease is bite trauma. Severe compression from unconscious teeth grinding causes “choking” of the blood and oxygen to the teeth and its support structures leading to breakdown and triggering the immune system response.

Gum disease cause by bacteria and the one caused by trauma look very similar. In fact, in most cases it is cause by a combination of these factors. Treating the build up without addressing the bite will lead to limited results and vice versa.

Gingivitis and Gum Disease can go unnoticed for years since in most cases the symptoms are mild and many dental practitioners neglect to screen patients periodically.

Other factors that may influence the development of gum problems include, diet, stress and some medical conditions. The mouth is a delicate environment that requires continuous monitoring. Your gums need to be evaluated once a year with X-Rays and a screening of gum pocket measurements; more often if there is a history of gum problems

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