GINGIVITIS is a superficial infection that is limited to the gum tissue and does not yet affect the underlying bone.  The gums may look normal, but may have some of the following signs: 

  • Redness and puffiness
  • Bleeding when brushed
  • Bad odor

PERIODONTITIS is when the infections spreads from the gum to the underlying bone.  In this stage, bone that supports the teeth is lost.  There are several types of periodontitis,  some more aggressive than others.  If periodontitis is untreated, tooth loss can occur. 

In some cases the gums appear red and swollen, and other signs may warn you of trouble: 

  • Spaces begin to appear between the teeth.  This can be a sign of an advanced problem. 
  • Loosening of one or more of the teeth.  This is almost always a sign of severe bone loss. 
  • Receding gums.  Periodontal diseases may cause gums to shirk away from the crown and expose some of the root.  This makes the teeth look longer.  Gum recession is not normal at any age. 
  • Vague aching, itching or other discomfort of the gums.

Every day a sticky, almost invisible film forms on the teeth.  This film is plaque, a continually spreading mass of disease causing bacteria and their waste products. Plaque grows on the teeth and down into the crevice deepens and is called a pocket. In very large amounts, plaque can be seen or can be felt with the tongue as a fuzzy, unclean coating on the teeth.  The bacteria of plaque produce toxins (poisons) that damage the gums and underlying bone.

Periodontal diseases are almost always painless, and only rarely do you notice changes, especially in he early stages.  Therefore you probably will not not notice gum puffiness  or pay attention to occasional bleeding when you brush. 

Most periodontal diseases can be prevented or, if already started, can be treated.  This particularly true if action is taken in the early stages of disease.