Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup on the surface of the gums. Plaque is made up of germs and bacteria that can irritate and damage the gums and bones in your jaw. The same plaque damages tooth enamel (the hard, protective outer layer of teeth).
Plaque is the result of a combination of sugars and simple carbohydrates in food and drinks with natural bacteria in the mouth. If proper dental hygiene is not practiced, plaque will build up on the gums. If the plaque doesn't disappear over time, it hardens and turns into tartar.
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The most common type of gum disease is gingivitis. This is the mildest form of gum disease and can be treated quickly and easily. Untreated gingivitis is called periodontal disease.There are two stages of periodontal disease: mild and advanced.
The most common symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen, tender gums that have receded from the teeth, bad breath, gums that bleed easily, bent or loose teeth.
Periodontal disease can not only damage your oral health, it can affect your overall health as well. Researchers believe the microbes in plaque enter the bloodstream and infect or injure other organs in the body.
If you find that your gums are bleeding, or that they are irritated, swollen, or tender, contact your dentist as soon as possible. The damage caused by periodontal disease can be repaired and reversed at an early stage.