Periodontal (gum) disease, including mild gingivitis gum disease and periodontitis (advanced gum disease), are oral infections that can eventually lead to tooth loss and jaw bone loss if untreated. Periodontal disease, or tooth and gum disease, is a chronic condition that damages both the gingivae (gums) and bone structures supporting the teeth. Dental gum disease can harm one or more teeth and begins when plaque bacteria renders the gums inflamed.
Gums redden, swell and bleed readily in the earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis. Gingivitis is frequently caused by poor oral hygiene and is reversible through improved oral care or professional periodontal treatment. Left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis as plaque bacteria spread and fester below the gum line. Toxins produced by the plaque bacteria irritate the gums and incite a chronic inflammatory auto-immune response in which the body destroys its own tissues and bone that support the teeth. Gums then detach from the teeth and form infected pockets. Eventually these pockets deepen allowing for more gum tissue and bone to be destroyed. During advanced gum disease, teeth may loosen and fall out.
As periodontitis is a "silent" disease, having very mild symptoms (tender, red, puffy gums that are common and inflict little discomfort on mild people), the disease is frequently ignored in its early phases.
Read on for more gum disease information from gum disease causes to treatment for gum disease to how to prevent gum disease.