Gum disease is a bacterial infection. Treatment can help.
Gum disease—also known as periodontal disease—is a bacterial infection that can harm the gums and the bone that support your teeth. Understanding how gum disease happens can help make your treatment goals clearer.
Plaque buildup starts above the gums
The bacteria in our mouths are constantly creating a sticky substance called plaque that clings to the surface of the teeth. Daily brushing and flossing can remove most plaque. But plaque that remains will gradually harden into a tougher substance called tartar, which brushing cannot remove. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.
Infection can spread lower, forming pockets
Without treatment, the gums can begin to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets of diseased tissue. This allows bacteria to spread to the roots of the teeth, which can make pockets even deeper. Over time, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth can be permanently damaged. Eventually, unsupported teeth can become loose and will need to be removed.
Gum disease does not have to get that far. With timely treatment, you and your dental professional can target the infection, which will help your gums to heal, get stronger, and hold your teeth more securely.