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What is gum disease?

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Even if you take care of your teeth by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, plaque can accumulate on your teeth. When plaque has the chance to build up, it hardens into something called tartar, which cannot be removed simply by brushing. Bacteria thrive in plaque and tartar and begin to multiply. Your body tries to fight this infection by making new blood vessels in your gums, which look red and swollen in the early stages of gum disease. You may notice that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth. The bacteria are irritating your gums.

This is the beginning stage of gum disease, gingivitis. If it is left untreated, gingivitis will advance to periodontitis. At this stage, the inner layer of the gum begins to pull away from teeth and “pockets” are formed. Bacteria and debris collect in these pockets, and your gums become infected.

If periodontitis isn’t taken care of, the bacteria start to make toxins, which can erode the bone and tissue that holds teeth in place. The pockets get even deeper, and bone and tissue erode even more. Eventually, without solid bone to help hold teeth in place, they become loose and fall out, resulting in the need for new teeth.

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