Gum disease, called Periodontitis, occurs when the gum tissue that supports one’s teeth becomes infected. Gum disease is the most common reason for tooth loss among adults. It is typically characterized by swollen gums, that sometimes bleed, that pull away from the patient’s teeth.
Periodontitis is typically caused by plaque, the sticky film that can often cover one’s teeth when not regularly cleaned. If plaque is not cleaned off, it can harden and becomes tartar. The tartar can build up on the teeth and irritate the individual’s gums, causing periodontitis. Periodontitis is a process that can be broken down into multiple stages. The initial (and least severe) stage is known as gingivitis. During this stage the gums may be red and swollen but have not yet started to pull away from the teeth. Gingivitis can typically be reversed by meticulous brushing, flossing, and the regular use of medicated mouth rinses.
The later stages of periodontitis are characterized as mild, moderate, or severe. If periodontitis is not treated quickly it can cause irreversible bone and ligament loss.