Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is the swelling of the tissue around the teeth.  Usually it starts as a mild problem, but can become quite severe and can damage the tissue and bone that hold the teeth in place.  It starts when bacteria from foods forms plaque on teeth.  Over time, the germs can irritate the gums and infected pockets may form around the teeth.  Gums begin red, swollen, and tender.  As periodontitis persists, people may notice persistent bad breath, loose or sensitive teeth, or pain while chewing.  Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, age thirty or older, and family history of tooth and gum problems.

The good news is that it is preventable.  Daily dental habits are so important and really do make a difference.  Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, ideally after meals.  Floss daily to remove the plaque between your teeth.  Don’t use tobacco, and see the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.