Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a bacterial infection that can destroy the soft tissues and bone that support the teeth. The most common causes of periodontal disease include:
- Gingivitis (gum infection): Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease that affects only the gum tissue. Gingiva, commonly referred to as gums, is the soft pink tissue at the floor of the oral cavity (mouth) that covers the roots of the teeth. Gingivitis may result from plaque (a sticky substance made up of bacteria) build-up on teeth and may lead to red, swollen gums that are prone to bleeding while brushing and flossing. Injury or trauma to the gums, due to improper brushing technique and certain medical conditions, may increase your risk of developing gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible at this stage; however, if left untreated it may progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis.
- Periodontitis: Periodontitis occurs from a progression of untreated gingivitis and affects the tissues supporting the teeth, resulting in loss of bone and teeth. The periodontium refers to the tissue that surrounds and supports the root of the teeth. Periodontitis usually develops as a result of poor oral hygiene. Complications associated with periodontitis include risk of heart attack or stroke, low birth weight babies, poorly controlled diabetes, and other serious health problems. Regular brushing, flossing and dental check-ups can greatly reduce your chance of developing periodontitis.