Periodontal or gum disease can be insidious. It’s an infection of the gums that starts as plaque. Plague is an opaque film on the teeth that hardens to form tartar. As tartar accumulates, it becomes a home for bacteria that attack the soft tissue around the gums.
This is the early stage of gum disease known as gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis becomes periodontitis which can ultimately destroy the tissue surrounding your teeth, and the bone that holds your teeth in place. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are few early warning signs. The disease advances silently and often without pain.
Tooth loss is only the most obvious indicator of gum disease. Scientific research has discovered links to gum disease and stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Gum disease can be an increased risk for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened.