Periodontal disease, in its mildest form, is referred to as gingivitis. When dental plaque, which contains bacteria-producing toxins, is left untreated, it can irritate the gums, and may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, but you can prevent build-up of plaque, and gingivitis, by consistent proper oral hygiene; brushing and flossing every day. Many factors can lead to gum disease, including: absence of regular brushing and flossing, smoking, diabetes, stress, clenching and grinding, medication, and poor nutrition.
When gingivitis goes untreated for a prolonged period, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets to form. As the periodontal disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place can deteriorate, leading to tooth loss.