Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, an infection of the tissues around your teeth caused by plaque. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. You may also experience bad breath. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it.
You are more likely to develop gum disease if you skip brushing and flossing, use tobacco, have crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean, are pregnant, have diabetes or take certain medications. When in its early stages, the disease is still reversible and your gums can be returned to good health with a professional cleaning from your dentist, along with daily brushing and flossing.
Periodontitis is the more advanced form of gum disease, a major cause of tooth loss in adults. According to the , nearly half of U.S. adults suffer from it. The disease can be reversed in early stages, but damage may be permanent the longer it goes untreated. Although you may not be aware of the gum disease in your mouth, abscesses can develop which usually painful. Symptoms include bleeding, swollen gums, persistent bad breath or bad taste, loose permanent teeth and a change in bite. Your teeth may appear to become longer as gums and bone recede. There are many treatments available, including deep cleanings known as scaling and root planing. Talk to your dentist to find out what’s best for you.
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