Gum disease (also known as periodontitis or gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition, which affects the surrounding and supporting soft tissues of the tooth, and the jawbone itself during its most advanced stages. If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth, and tooth loss.
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. This bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins created by plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues. Once this bacterial infection accumulates in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone. It is also the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in developed countries and should always be promptly treated.
There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.
The most common causes of gum disease are:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Tobacco use
- Chronic stress and poor diet
- Grinding teeth
- Genetic predisposition
- Diabetes and underlying medical issues
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Certain medications