Periodontal (gum) disease is insidious. It is an infection of the gums that starts out with bacterial plaque, an opaque film on the teeth that hardens to form tartar. As tartar and plaque accumulate, they cause inflammation, which attacks the gum tissue. This is the early stage of gum disease known as Gingivitis. Left untreated, Gingivitis can become Periodontitis, which ultimately destroys the tissue surrounding your teeth INCLUDING the bone that holds your teeth in place. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are very few early warning signals. The disease advances silently, often without pain, and before you know it, you are losing your teeth and you don't know why.
Tooth loss is only the most obvious indicator of gum disease. Scientific research has discovered links between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, diabetes - even an increased risk for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened.