Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums. It occurs when plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth and under the gums. Plaque and tartar contain bacteria that infect the gums. The infection causes swelling, bleeding, and redness of the gums.
Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can progress to involve the underlying bone, which can erode and loosen the teeth. When severe, teeth may eventually fall out or have to be removed.
Both gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by bacterial plaque buildup around and below the gum line. Plaque hardens into tartar both above and below the gum line, which irritates the gums and causes them to bleed more easily. The bacteria in plaque also make your gums more prone to infection.
Common symptoms of gum disease include red, swollen, tender gums that may bleed during brushing or flossing. You may also notice persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth. Pain around a tooth when biting down is another common sign of gum disease. Gum disease is most common in adults in their 30s and 40s, though it can affect people of all ages.
If left untreated, gum disease can lead to a range of serious health concerns. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of gum disease include:
These symptoms can be mild or severe. Treatment for gum disease can range from moderate scaling and root planing to extractions.
Gum disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth, causing inflammation of the gums and bleeding of gum tissue. Untreated gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease, such as periodontitis or advanced periodontitis. Periodontitis affects approximately 47% of adults in the United States. The stages of gum disease begin with swelling and redness of the gums and progress to bleeding, receding gums, and the development of deep pockets between the teeth and gums. This can allow bacteria to build up under the gum line, increasing the risk of tooth decay and further infection.
If left untreated, periodontal treatment may be necessary to repair damage and restore dental health. Root planing and scaling is a common treatment for the early stages of gum disease, while more advanced cases may require gum surgery or even bone and tissue grafts to promote healing of the gums and surrounding tissues. Dental lasers can also be used to reduce pain and speed up the healing process following gum surgery.