Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums and bone that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Bacteria in dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. These bacteria and the toxins they produce invade the gum tissue which can cause the gums to turn red and swollen, as well as bleed. If this infection is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing deep pockets to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar) which only harbors more bacteria. Calculus can occur both above and below the gum line.
As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that hold teeth in place are destroyed. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. Do not be fooled! Bleeding, redness, and swelling do not have to be visible for the disease to be present. Also pain rarely is associated with periodontal disease. This disease damages the teeth, gum, and jawbone of almost half of Americans over 30 years old.