Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums is the earliest form of periodontal disease. One of the major signs of gingivitis is bleeding from the gums, however this can also be a sign of more advanced gum disease. If caught early, gingivitis can be treated fairly easily and effectively with a thorough dental cleaning or prophylaxis and good home care.

Periodontitis is typically a chronic disease which causes the loss of support for the teeth, and if not treated, eventually leads to tooth loss. As bacteria collect at or below the gumline, the gums become red and tend to bleed with brushing or flossing. Over time, more aggressive bacteria accumulate and release toxic substances that activate the body's immune system. Our bodies are unable to remove the bacterial plaque or biofilm because it adheres to the tooth and root surfaces and as a consequence of this process those of us who are susceptible to periodontitis begin to lose support for the teeth (i.e. the bone dissolves away) which eventually can lead to tooth loss.