Periodontal (gum) disease can go undetected for years without any visible signs. It is a chronic infectious disease of the surrounding supporting structures (gums and bones) of your teeth. It starts out as gingivitis, just affecting your gums. Gingivitis is reversible with treatment when discovered early. Plaque is a sticky, opaque film on the teeth that your oral bacteria makes. You can remove plaque by brushing and flossing. If not removed, it eventually hardens to form tartar (calculus) build up. Plaque and tartar harbor bacteria, which triggers your body to go into an infection fighting mode on your gum tissue. Your gums may become swollen and bleed easily. Left untreated, gingivitis becomes periodontitis which starts to destroy the bone surrounding your teeth. Except for maybe bad breath and gums that bleed easily, there are very few early warning signals. The disease advances silently, often without pain, until you may get an acute gum or tooth infection, or some of your teeth become loose. Advanced periodontitis is difficult to treat.
Scientific research has discovered linkage between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, and diabetes through increased levels of chronic inflammatory factors. Regular visits to the dentist for check ups and cleanings can diagnose gum disease in its early stage and get the necessary treatment.