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When bacteria are not removed by brushing twice daily and flossing once daily, a sticky substance called plaque develops at the gum line.

Plaque hardens over time and becomes tartar, a substance that must be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist through a professional cleaning.

Bacterial irritation causes the gums to swell and bleed when touched. Bleeding gums are a sign of an early phase of gum disease called gingivitis, which can be reversed through a proper dental cleaning and practicing good oral hygiene.

If gingivitis is left untreated, the gum disease eventually worsens, advancing to periodontitis, which is when the gums pull away from the teeth. Periodontitis is an inflammatory gum disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. If periodontitis continues to progress, it will eventually destroy the gums and lead to tooth loss.

Periodontitis has some genetic components and may run in families. Some illnesses, such as diabetes or HIV, can negatively impact gum health. Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during puberty or pregnancy, can increase the instance of disease.

Periodontal disease does not have a cure, but it can be stopped and controlled with proper home care and periodic periodontal maintenance appointments at our dental office.