Gum Disease - What Happens
Milder types of
gum disease (gingivitis ) start when bacteria are
left on teeth and gums and
plaque forms. Plaque and the acids it produces
irritate the gums, causing them to become red and swollen.
- Plaque can harden into tartar (or calculus), a
mineral buildup that also irritates gums and must be removed by a dental
- Untreated gingivitis can progress to advanced
gum disease (periodontitis ), causing gums to pull
away from the teeth or recede down the root. This creates deep pockets. Plaque
can grow in the pockets, further damaging the gums and breaking down bones that
support the teeth.
- Bone damage can loosen teeth, causing them to
fall out or have to be removed.
If a woman has gum disease during pregnancy, she may be at
greater risk of having a premature, low-birth-weight baby.1
Studies have found a direct link between heart disease and the
bacteria that cause gum disease.2 So taking good care
of your teeth and gums may have benefits beyond keeping your mouth healthy.