Gum disease is a health condition that causes inflammation of the gums that can progress further to affect the bone that surrounds and supports teeth. It is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms around teeth. If not removed thoroughly by brushing and flossing, plaque can build up and the bacteria infect not only your gums and teeth, but eventually the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth. This can cause perfectly healthy teeth to become loose, fall out or may have to be removed by a dentist.
The two main types of gum disease we are aiming to prevent by seeing a dentist regularly are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is irritation, redness and swelling of gums caused by plaque remaining for too long around the teeth and gums. Gingivitis can be prevented with good oral hygiene.
However, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which affects deeper layers surrounding the teeth.The gums can shrink back and in turn the bone that supports the teeth can resorb away. Gums may begin to form a pocket below the gumline, which traps food and plaque. At this stage, the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged, leading the teeth to become loose and mobile, and eventually if left untreated result in tooth loss.
More and more scientists are learning the secondary effects of gum disease some health problems that may be linked to poor oral health are: diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer.