Gums are the tissue that surround and support your teeth. Gum disease is when this tissue becomes infected and is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, which is also called periodontal disease. Plaque (soft food and bacteria on teeth) is constantly forming and leads to the formation of tartar (calculus), so regular dental care is important to preventing buildup that affects the gums.
If you experience bleeding or swollen gums, gums that are pulling away from your teeth, bad breath or taste, loose, you may have signs of gum disease. If you don’t take proper care of your teeth, smoke or chew tobacco, are pregnant, have diabetes, have crooked teeth, or take certain medications, you may have an increased risk of gum disease. Regular dental exams are important for identifying any symptoms that may develop into a problem.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. Gingivitis can be eliminated by a thorough dental cleaning (prophylaxis) and proper dental home care following the cleaning. If gingivitis is not reversed, it develops into periodontitis, which is advanced gum disease. Almost half of adults over 30 are affected by chronic periodontitis, which can lead to irreversible loss of the tissue and bone that supports your teeth.
While periodontal disease can develop slowly. If you observe rapid loss of tissue or bone, you may have aggressive periodontitis. Consult a dentist immediately if you notice drastic changes in your mouth. However, there are not always warning signs for gum disease, which is why professional consultations and exams are so important.