Periodontal or gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a leading cause of tooth loss in American adults. The gums, ligaments, and bone are referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. When left on the teeth, plaque – the sticky film of bacteria that is brushed and flossed away with proper oral care – produces toxins that attack below the gum line in the sulcus (a shallow v-shaped crevice between the tooth and gums), causing the bond between teeth and gums to break down. Regular dental examinations are essential in prevention and early detection, especially since you can have disease without experiencing any warning signs or discomfort. In the early stage of gum disease (gingivitis), gums may become red and swollen and bleed easily; in the more advanced stage (periodontal disease), teeth can loosen and even fall out. With proper gum treatments, it may be possible to return gum tissue to a healthy state. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning done under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents where we remove the bacteria from under the gum line. It is important to have gum problems checked promptly as gum disease left untreated may eventually need treatment through surgery.