Gingivitis (Periodontal Disease)

Gingivitis, also generally called gum disease or periodontal disease, describes the events that begin with bacterial growth in your mouth and may end, if not properly treated, with tooth loss due to the destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth. Gingivitis generally precedes periodontitis. However, not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.

In the early stage of gingivitis, bacteria in plaque buildup and cause the gums to become inflamed (red and swollen) and often easily bleed during tooth brushing. Although, the gums may be irritated and inflamed, the teeth are still secured in their sockets.

If detected early, gingivitis can be treated fairly easily and effectively. A small mirror and a probing tool are used to detect bleeding gums. The more areas that bleed, the more likely your gum disease is severe. Hard mineral deposits (tartar) above and below the gum line are a problem area that is usually addressed during treatment, as are areas where your gums are pulling away from your teeth and pockets have formed between your teeth and gums. Deeper pockets indicate severe gum disease. X-rays of your teeth may be taken to look for bone damage and other problems.


When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. As gum disease progresses, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where plaque can grow and do further damage. It is these pockets that can become infected. The body’s immune system begins to be compromised as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. As the disease progresses, the gum and bone support of the teeth are destroyed leading to tooth loss.

Necrotizing periodontal disease

Necrotizing periodontal diseases are infections characterized by necrosis of the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. These lesions are most commonly seen in advanced systemic condition including, but not limited to, HIV infection, malnutrition and immune- suppressed individuals.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and gums after eating foods that produce acids. These foods may include carbohydrates (starches and sugars) such as candy and cookies, and starchy foods such as bread, crackers, and cereals.

When plaque remains in your mouth for an extended period of time, it allows the bacteria to “eat away” at the surfaces of your teeth and gums. Areas surrounding restored dental work (fillings, amalgams) are particularly vulnerable to decay and are very susceptible to bacteria.

Plaque can lead to gum irritation, soreness, and redness and can lead to serious long term problems if left untreated.