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Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease. This infection attacks the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. Periodontal disease is usually painless in its early stage, so you may not realize that you have it. If left untreated, this infection can cause tooth loss in adults. Contact your dentist if you experience any of the following:

• Gums that bleed easily when you brush and floss
• Enflamed and tender gums
• Receding gums
• Bad breath or a bad taste that will not go away
• Loose or shifting permanent teeth
• Any change in your bite
• Pus coming from the gums

Gum disease is caused by the growth of bacteria and plaque on the teeth, above and beneath the gums. The bacteria in plaque feeds on sugars in the foods and beverages you consume, causing toxins. These toxins irritate the gums, which causes them to swell and bleed easily. As time passes, plaque can harden, becoming tartar. This irritates the gums further and causes them to pull away from the teeth. At this point, the disease will spread below the gums and attack the tissues and bone that support the teeth. This causes the teeth to loosen and shift.

If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend extra dental cleanings. If this is not sufficient, scaling and root planing, which is a deep cleaning procedure, will be performed. Gum disease is easily treated in its early stages.