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What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums, caused by bacteria growing in dental plaque. Dental plaque is a cheesy, sticky coating that constantly forms on teeth. Bacteria that are harmful to gums thrive in this plaque. This plaque can be removed with good thorough brushing and flossing. If not removed within a few hours after plaque deposits on the teeth, the plaque absorbs calcium from the saliva and becomes dental calculus or tartar, which is so firmly adherent to teeth that it cannot be removed any more by brushing or flossing. The bacteria in plaque then infects the gums and teeth, and if not treated, will progress to infect the supporting tissues and bone, resulting in loosening of the teeth.


As mentioned above, when plaque first starts building up at the gumline, if it is not removed by brushing and flossing the bacteria in the plaque produce chemicals (toxins, poisons), which cause inflammation of the gums or gingivitis. Gingivitis is painless, and that is why people are usually unaware that they even have it. The only symptom may be some bleeding during brushing. This makes it so important to have a dental checkup and a professional cleaning periodically, as at this early stage, damage can be reversed, since the infection has not progressed to affect the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place.
If the plaque and tartar that buildup on teeth are not removed, the bacterial infection spreads to the supporting bone and fibers that hold teeth in place, resulting in irreversible damaged. The gums will usually begin to separate away from the root surface of the teeth, forming pockets below the gumline, in which more food, plaque and bacteria can accumulate. This only increases the bacterial infection and the pocket depth, and the disease process feeds itself on this ongoing cycle. Timely dental treatment and improved home care can eliminate the tartar buildups and pocket formation and usually help prevent further damage.
Advanced Periodontitis
If periodontitis is not treated in good time, it progresses to involve increasing amounts of bone and in this final stage of gum disease, the fibers and bone supporting the teeth are destroyed, resulting in shifting and loosening of the teeth, changes in the bite, and even loss of teeth.


  • Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Teeth that look longer because the gums have receded
  • Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from the teeth, creating a pocket
  • Changes in the bite
  • Pus coming from between the teeth and gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.


The early stages of gum disease can often be reversed with proper brushing and flossing. Good oral health will help keep plaque from building up.

A professional cleaning in our office is the only way to remove plaque that has built up and hardened into tartar. We will clean or “scale” your teeth to remove the tartar above and below the gumline. If your condition is more severe, a root planing procedure may be performed. Root planing helps to smooth irregularities on the roots of the teeth making it more difficult for plaque to deposit there.

Gum Disease and Dangers of Heart Disease and Stroke:

  • Gum Disease and Health Risks to the rest of the body

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