Periodontal disease—also known as gum disease—is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. The two major forms of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, which can cause swelling, redness and irritation in the gums (although sometimes it can be painless). Gingivitis is reversible through good home care and routine professional cleanings. It’s important to address this when it occurs as it can cause more severe issues if left untreated.
If left untreated, gingivitis will progress to periodontitis, a form of gum disease that will begin to infect the tissues that support the teeth, leading to loosening of the teeth and eventual tooth loss.
Gingivitis and periodontitis can affect people of any age. Contributing factors to periodontal disease can include poor brushing or flossing habits, tobacco use (in any form), systemic issues such as diabetes and others.