What Causes Gum Disease?
Our mouths provide a home to millions of bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. Bacterial waste forms a sticky substance, plaque, which adheres to the teeth. Brushing and flossing aim at removing plaque before it mineralizes into tartar. Tartar becomes a colony for more bacteria releasing toxins into the gums.
Gums react to this bacterial invasion with an inflammatory response thanks to your immune system. Around the base of each tooth, there is a small collar of gum tissue that forms a small crevice or pocket. This warm, dark environment provides a perfect habitat for deeper tartar and bacteria to infiltrate.
Early inflammation results in bleeding gums, known as gingivitis. Bacteria left untreated and undisturbed successfully create a chronic infection in the periodontal pocket. In many cases, the bone begins to deteriorate around the teeth. While gums may be slightly tender at this stage, there's generally minimal discomfort as the bone begins to erode.
More than 50% of the bone around your teeth can disappear before any signs of looseness or pain appear. The bone around teeth never regenerates, so this loss becomes permanent and harder to control as the bacteria hide deeper into the gums. Untreated gum disease leads to abscesses and generalized tooth loss in many advanced cases.