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Gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease, attacks the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. Gum disease is usually painless, so you may not realize that you have it. If left untreated, this infection can cause tooth loss in adults. Contact your dentist if you have any of the following signs of gum disease:

• Red, swollen, and sore gums
• Gums that bleed easily when you brush and floss
• Bad breath or a bad taste that will not go away
• Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
• Pus coming from the gums
• Any change in your bite
• Loose or shifting permanent teeth

This disease is caused by the growth of bacteria and plaque on the teeth, above and beneath the gums. The bacteria in plaque feeds on sugars in the foods and beverages you consume, causing toxins. These toxins irritate the gums, which causes them to swell and bleed easily. As time passes, plaque can harden, becoming tartar. This irritates the gums further and causes them to pull away from the teeth. At this point, the disease can spread below the gums and damage the tissues and bone that support the teeth. This causes the teeth to loosen and shift.

If you have gum disease, your dentist will provide extra dental cleanings. If this is not sufficient, a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing will be performed. Gum disease is easily treated in its early stages.