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Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal literally means 'around the tooth'. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) cause the gums to become inflamed.
You may be at risk of gum disease if you answer yes to any of the following questions:
• Do your gums ever bleed?
• Are your teeth loose?
• Have your gums receded, or do your teeth look longer?
• Do you smoke or use tobacco products?
• Have you had any adult teeth extracted?
• Has it been more than 2 years since seeing a dentist?
• Have any of your family members had gum disease? In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.