Periodontal disease (gum disease) is an infection of the gums and can affect the bone structure that supports your teeth. In severe cases, it can make your teeth fall out. Smoking is an important cause of severe gum disease in the United States.
Gum disease starts with bacteria (germs) on your teeth that get under your gums. If the germs stay on your teeth for too long, layers of plaque (film) and tartar (hardened plaque) develop. This buildup leads to early gum disease, called gingivitis.
When gum disease gets worse, your gums can pull away from your teeth and form spaces that get infected. This is severe gum disease, also called periodontitis. The bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place can break down, and your teeth may loosen and need to be pulled out.
*How Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?
You can help avoid gum disease with good dental habits.
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Floss often to remove plaque.
- See a dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, quit.