The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria will eventually cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis.” Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease.
If gingivitis is not treated the infection breaks down the gum tissue that attaches to the teeth. Gingivitis has then advanced to periodontitis where bacterial toxins from the plaque and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If periodontitis is not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
The following are some of the warning signs of periodontal disease:
- Bad breath or bad taste that won't go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Prevention and treatment Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning. More severe forms of periodontal disease can also be treated successfully but may require more extensive treatment. Such treatment might include deep cleaning of the tooth root surfaces below the gums and sometimes corrective surgery.
To help prevent or control periodontal diseases, it is important to:
- Brush and floss every day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- See your dentist at least once a year for checkups, or more frequently if you have any of the warning signs or risk factors mentioned above.