Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is normally painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.
The sooner you treat gum disease the better. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Chronic periodontitis affects nearly half of adults over 30 years old in the United States. It can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. This is the most common form of periodontitis in adults but can occur at any age. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.