Gum or periodontal disease is an ongoing infection of the gums, and it will slowly destroy the supporting structures of your teeth. Gum disease will affect the periodontal tissues, including the gingiva, cementum, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. While there are numerous diseases that could affect the structures that support the teeth, inflammatory lesions caused by plaque buildup make up most periodontal issues, and they are divided into two main categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the less serious of the two and can be reversed, but left untreated, it can result in periodontitis.
Gingivitis is typically caused by dental plaque, which is a colorless and sticky film that is composed of bacteria and food particles. This film will adhere to the teeth at and below the gumline, and it will start forming even minutes after you brush. Toxins are caused by bacteria found in the plaque, and they irritate the gums, causing them to become red and inflamed. If this irritation is allowed to progress, the gums can begin to pull away from the teeth to form pockets. Further neglecting your oral hygiene can cause the plaque to harden into a substance known as tartar, which can only be removed with the specialized tools found in your dentist's office.
The more serious form of gum disease, periodontitis, will be affected by the bacteria that stick to the surface of the teeth along with an aggressive immune system response to the bacteria. If gingivitis is allowed to progress into periodontitis, you will experience deterioration of both the gum tissue and the jawbone that works to hold the teeth in their proper place. If this bone loss continues, the teeth can begin to loosen and fall out.