Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is a condition that affects the soft tissues and bone that support and anchor the teeth. In its mildest form it can lead to inflamed or bleeding gums, while more advanced forms can result in bone loss, gum recession and eventually, tooth loss. Gum disease is largely preventable; early detection is important to stop the progression of disease.
Gingivitis: Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. It can cause inflamed and swollen gums that bleed when teeth are brushed or flossed.
Periodontitis: Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease. It results in deepening pockets between the gums and the tooth, followed by bone loss and loosening of teeth. Periodontitis is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
Causes of gum disease
Gum disease is caused by an accumulation of bacterial plaque at the point where your teeth and your gums meet. Plaque, a sticky film, forms on your teeth daily. Brushing and flossing help to remove plaque from your mouth. Plaque can build up and harden to form calculus (tartar). Without removing tartar (professional dental cleanings are required) plaque will continue to build up while the bacteria within the plaque can irritate the gums and progress to break down bone.
Other contributing factors include tobacco use, diet, and some medications. Certain systemic diseases such as diabetes can also make you more susceptible to gum disease.
Learn more about gum disease
prevention and treatment.
Micoscope image of the bacteria associated with Gingivitis.