If your gums are red, swollen, and bleed when flossing, you may have periodontal disease. Periodontal disease affects the health of your gums and the bone structures that hold your teeth in place. Without treatment, tooth loss inevitably occurs, affecting your smile and your ability to speak and chew normally. Healthy gums not only help you keep your natural teeth, they enhance their appearance, like a frame around a painting. Unhealthy gums recede or become swollen and discolored.
The primary cause of gingivitis and periodontal disease is dental plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film composed of microscopic food particles and various types of bacteria. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth and hides beneath the gumline. The bacteria in plaque can produce toxins that irritate the gums, causing them to become inflamed, red, and swollen. Without treatment, the gums begin to separate from the teeth, causing pockets to form.
If gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and bone deteriorates. The progressive loss of this bone can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.
Because periodontal disease is often painless, it is dangerous. Nearly 80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45; four out of five patients with the disease are unaware they have it. Maintaining proper at-home dental care and visiting your dentist as recommended will reduce your risk of obtaining this disease.